Heather Havrilesky doles out the best wisdom of anyone working in the advice game today. Read Ask Polly archives on New York Magazine‘s site and you’ll find hilarious, compassionate, smart, profanity-laden and surprisingly profound guidance on everything from perennial singledom to career doldrums. Upon the release of her columns collection How To Be A Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life (Penguin Random House Canada, $34), we asked Ask Polly herself for some insight into how she guides the masses.
1: I love this letter so much, because she recognizes that she doesn’t know this guy well enough to justify obsessing about him. She’s also aware that her mind is just bored and restless. I wish I’d known the same things when I was younger and got fixated on one arbitrary guy after another.
2: I get a lot of letters from smart people who understand themselves but still keep falling into the same ruts. I relate to that so much; I’ve thought a lot about breaking bad cognitive habits.
3: I often remind readers that no one changes that easily. All humans are flawed and make the same mistakes for years. Truly accepting that fact alone can actually bring you a lot of happiness.
4: When I was reading this out loud for my audiobook, I couldn’t stop crying! But this is something I want so badly for my two daughters, who are nine and seven now: to never lose sight of how much raw brilliance and joy and grace they carry around inside them.
5: It’s so hard to be young—most of us have so much potential, but we so often believe our magic belongs to someone else. I wanted to express how it feels to finally know how strong and sublime you are. Anything can be yours; you just have to believe in your own big, beautiful soul.