You need to read what this woman has to say. It will better your life.

Full disclosure: I had planned something entirely different for you today.

But then… something happened last night.

A friend sent me a link to one of New York magazine’s “Ask Polly” columns, just with the words, “This is so good“. I read it, then wanted more. And more, and more.

In every single answer, she seems to be not just helping the person with their specific problem, but helping ALL of us with EVERY problem. And the theme that keeps coming up, over and over again, is the same one that drives me to help you tell stories, and to beg you to tell vulnerable ones:

No one – NO ONE – has all of their sh-t together, and you are not alone.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from some of those I read last night (plus links to each column).

This first, reminds me of my “I Don’t Have It All Together Tuesday” Facebook thread:

“[Our] darkness and messes will never go away. Our stormy cells will generate more turbulence and more unrest. We are all complex creatures, whether we choose to recognize it or not, capable of love and rage and a capacity for joy that refreshes itself in spite of countless disappointments. We are built to despair but we’re also built for hope…

“Your ugly is so beautiful, and you don’t even see it. Look how optimistic it is of you, to admit your pessimism. Look how courageous you are, to admit that you’re frightened.”

From here:


On having exciting friends who then don’t make us feel brilliant:

“Exploding stars are exciting to watch, but they will burn your life to the ground if you’re not careful.
….Sometimes we want wild, loud, destructive people around us just to distract us from our own fragile hearts. When you make some room for your own heart, though, you’ll find that those so-called boring friends become the most precious, brilliant people in the room out of nowhere. Be good to them. Write their names down and pin them to your wall, so you remember to give them your energy and your kindness. Be grateful for them. Stand up for them. Let them know that you love them. Have faith in the power of rock-solid friendships with kindhearted people.”


On whether or not to leave the kind, “suitable” partner you’re not in love with:

“Will you miss him? Sure! Are you taking him for granted? Definitely! Will you ever find someone as nice as him? Maybe not! But all of those things are irrelevant, because as long as you keep living the way you’re living right now, you’re going to be unhappy.”


On feeling broken, wanting love, and wondering whether you’re allowed it:

“Your desire for love is beautiful. This moment of sitting down on the ground and wanting someone else to carry you is scary and dark and ugly and terrible and sad and heartbreaking, and it is also beautiful.

Your desire for love is like some small remaining ray of light that survived, deep inside you, after every other light was snuffed out. This light is your strength. It is a miracle that this tiny burst of desire still flickers inside you.

This light is the best part of you, and the strongest part of you. You are right to believe in this more than anything else. You want to be loved — this is your soul. THIS IS WHO YOU ARE. It is still giving off sparks. It says, “Carry me.” It says, “Love me.”

Stay where you are and bask in the light of this tiny spark. Look at how gorgeous your need is. Everything around you is dark, but your need is a white-hot light.

 …You start where you are, and you love yourself, in all of your bottomless need, in all of your hopelessness, in all of your longing.
…Imagine for a minute that you want love because there is endless love inside of you. Think of how incredible that is.”

[Trigger Warning here]


On how to deal with people who hurt us:

“This life is tough for all of us. My ex was someone who struggled mightily just to feel like he wasn’t being tortured, every second of every day. It makes me sad to think of it. He wore his pain on his face. He was not at peace. That’s a more common human state than most of us want to admit. So let’s try to forgive and feel compassion for my ex and for yours. Sure, we need to know how fucked up they are, so we can avoid them and stop torturing ourselves with them. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying really hard to get it right. I stopped talking to my ex because it felt disingenuous, but I hope to God he’s happy these days. I want that for him. I want him to feel calm and relaxed and at peace. I can laugh at what a dick he was sometimes and still want him to experience happiness. I can send him my love, from a distance, without wanting to be in his life.”


On falling in unrequited or inappropriate daydream-centric love, over and again:
“You need to focus all this swirling, intense, imaginative mind-fuckery into something bold and bright and useful. You must figure out where to put this! You must make something with your big, clumsy imagination! You must learn to focus really hard and work really hard, even if at first you only make shitty-looking, stupid, pointless things that other people will call crappy!

Having something worthwhile to focus on is key. It’s sexy because it feels good because it’s everything. You can’t become a full person until you learn to turn off the pretty fantasies of emotional theft in your brain”


This, which makes me want to jump on a chair, fist in the air, yelling at the top of my lungs:
“I know that my manufacturing flaws are shared by lots of other people. Maybe we were all made in the same batch at the factory. We are misshapen things, we don’t function correctly, and we have been churned out for years and years. We are deeply fucked in many ways, but we are not *uniquely fucked. We are everywhere. Or maybe we’re smoothly functioning perfection and it’s the world that makes us think we don’t work. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Either way, we are not alone.”


And finally this – the first one I ever read, and the one I love the most:

“As long as you imagine that the outside world will one day deliver to you the external rewards you need to feel happy, you will always perceive your survival as exhausting and perceive your life as a long slog to nowhere. Instead, you have to savor the tiny struggles of the day: The cold glass of water after a long run. The hot bath after hours of digging through the dirt. The satisfaction of writing a good sentence, a good paragraph. You MUST feel these things, because these aren’t small rewards on the path to some big reward; these tiny things are *everything. Savoring these things requires tuning in to your feelings, and it requires loving yourself instead of shoving your nose into your own question marks hour after hour, day after day.

You are not lost. You are here. Stop abandoning yourself. Stop repeating this myth about love and success that will land in your lap or evade you forever. Build a humble, flawed life from the rubble, and cherish *that. There is nothing more glorious on the face of the earth than someone who refuses to give up, who refuses to give in to their most self-hating, discouraged, disillusioned self, and instead learns, slowly and painfully, how to relish the feeling of building a hut in the middle of the suffocating dust.”

Isn’t she just utterly, UTTERLY wonderful?


Thanks for reading. I do hope you read more Ask Polly – there’s a TON on the internet, both from NY Mag and from when she did the column for The Awl


You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:


  • Elloa Atkinson

    Reply Reply October 12, 2016


    I have to shout your name to communicate to you just how EXCITED I am to discover Polly. Her words are as powerful and exhilarating to me as Cheryl Strayed’s were when I discovered her a month ago.

    I think I have a new life goal: to write an agony aunt column in the flavour of Dear Sugar and Ask Polly. Seriously.

    I’m looking forward to gobbling up as many of this woman’s words as I humanly can.

    Thank you xxxxx

  • Anne

    Reply Reply October 12, 2016

    I officially love this. Miss Polly. YES!!

    Also: YY x

  • Amanda

    Reply Reply October 17, 2016

    You’ll love the Ask Polly book, “How to be a Person in the World.” Yeah Heather Havrilesky!

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