if have nothing, then how give anything? (help wanted)
advice for when your tank is empty
Hello, or should I say ‘yo,’ which I am sure astute readers will know is short for ‘yodelayheehoo,’ which as I’m sure my prebiotically minded readers know is just the unabridged version of the word ‘yogurt.’
This is all true. How else could I have just written it?
It’s…. Help Wanted
Moving on, we’ve got a great show for you today, because Help Wanted is coming back! This is the only place I’m legally allowed to use my psychology degree without “becoming” a “therapist” and doggonne it if I’m going to let it go to waste.
Please enjoy this HW rerun while I take care of my newborn child. Soon I’ll return and do more of these which brings me to a question for you:
It can be serious or dumb or fiscally sensitive, I’ll answer them all. I’ve also saved 3 marriages and kicked off 4 divorces. Shoot me an email or reply to this and all ur answers will be revealed.
Q: What do you do when you have nothing left to give?
Rather than asking you for any follow-up, I am just gonna try and figure out what you meant from context clues and a bit of sleuthing (not many advice givers can do this, which is what sets me apart from the rest and why I was nominated for Best Advice Guy 2019 and again in 2022).
Do you know the song Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars? Me neither, but somehow it made its way onto one of my Spotify playlists, so I hear it a lot. It starts with a man’s voice like gravel saying:
“When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”
- Stars, the band
The song continues, but who cares. That line lodged itself into my brain and popped up like a grubby lil’ weasel when I read your question.
So, let’s translate what this man, the father of the lead singer of Your Ex-Lover is Dead it turns out, said:
This is a classic math proof
IF there is nothing left to burn
THEN you have to set yourself on fire
IT MUST ALSO BE TRUE THAT
IF there is nothing left to give
THEN you have to ...give yourself away.
or as we like to say in the world of SAT analogies:
nothing left to burn : set yourself on fire :: nothing left to give : give yourself away
Ok so there’s your answer: give yourself away. A few ways to do that:
Put the remainder of your soul onto Nextdoor in the Free and Giving Away section. Get ready for some wackadoo responses, people are NUTS on there.
Give away the narrative you’ve created about yourself in which you have nothing left to give. Give that up and you are free to give nothing more, or something more if you want, it doesn’t matter. Whatever self you’ve constructed about who you seem to be largely defined by this question (otherwise, why would you send it?). I say give away that idea. We’re often limited only by the model by which we see a situation. So, give away the model. Sell the farm. Travel far and wide to see what life might be like if it didn’t matter jack diddly how much you gave and how much you had left to give.
Not helpful? I can see that. Lemme try a different approach.
A different approach
If you've given everything, you have nothing left, yes? Great. This is, in some cultures, the unattainable goal. To let go of all the trappings, to sit under a tree until you can confidently say “I’m good” and get up and tell everyone about how you sat under the tree. Either that or wait for an apple to fall on your head. These are the two things that happen when someone sits under a tree long enough.
You’ve reached enlightenment. You are truly free. But wait. You haven’t really, have you? Sure, you have nothing left to give BUT YOU’RE STILL ATTACHED to the fact that you have nothing left to give. In philosophy circles, we call this the boomerang. You throw it and then it comes back and you’ve still got it (if you don’t get this, you’re not alone - I have a big book coming out about it from the Oxford and Harvard presses - they had to collab on the release because the book was so dense with ideas like it weighed so much no one could even really lift it up its crazy but i don’t wanna get distracted let’s keep going).
Much like a pdf, you’re still attached.
So what can be done? Simple: let it go (I wrote a song about this in a movie called Frozen Veggies.)
Or to put it in the parlance that my fellow 23-year-olds will understand – because I am also 23 – it’s giving fear.
Fear that you aren’t enough, that you must give more in order to be enough.
You know what that’s giving me? Feeling. For you. No one should ever feel like they are running on empty and still somehow feel like they need to give more. Cars like this end up dying on the side of the street in LA, forcing you to walk to SEVERAL gas stations before finding one that sells a gas canister which, you’d think, would be a no-brainer for any station but hey this isn’t your industry, so then you fill-up the lil gas tank and run back to your car and fill it up and then, finally, you drive home.
Is this all a little too ‘up in the clouds’? Let’s get practical.
WHO THE FUCK is saying you need to keep giving more? If it’s someone else, simply mail me their address on 10 separate pieces of paper, each mailed separately, that I can then glue together to know where the person lives and go have a chat with them and my pet tigers (nicknames for my fists).
If someone else is saying ‘gimme gimme gimme more, gimme gimme more’, tell em you have nothing left to give and also why the hell are they asking for more and more.
If it is your own mean little head saying that you need to give more, then forget all the stuff I said about the address. I don’t even have tigers (yet).
Feeling like you’re not enough, now that’s a cause I can get behind! By which I mean I am also this way, never enough, always needing to prove myself worthy of existence by way of giving / doing / etc. But this is a fool’s errand with no end (a fool’s err).
In closing (time, finish up ur wiski and beards)
What helps me, and what I’d recommend you do, is interrogate that belief. Get that idea into one of those rooms with the mirrors and the chairs and head in there two of you one with a mustache and one without, and do a good cop bad cop thing but switch halfway through cuz everyone knows the good cop / bad cop thing its like way too classic these days. Also maybe instead of asking the belief if it wants a soda, ask if it wants a tomato juice - just to get it a little off guard.
Honestly, I might delete all this and just stick with my original answer:
Take it slow, take it easy, take it all with a grain of salt.
Take a nap, take a hike, take a beat.
You deserve it. And if anyone says otherwise, take ‘em to the cleaners (rob them).
🛎 Got a qwandry? Help Wanted is coming back!
Comment on this post or email me at email@example.com with your question and the name you’d like me to use (e.g. Jolene W. or Boba Fett from Upstate).
Let’s talk about it. Some prompts:
What do you do when you feel like you have nothing left to give?
Do you know that band, Stars?
Do you want advice? Comment and I will answer in a future edition bc I don’t know if you heard but i’m resurrecting the Help Wanted column once Emma June says it’s ok