I’m enjoying the many pleasures of Kresley Cole. Her Immortals After Dark series is fast, fun and hot, hot, hot. What’s not to love?  Her latest offering, Wicked Abyss, follows the unlikely adventures of a fairy princess, Lila, and the King of Hell, Sian. What could possibly go wrong?  Absolutely everything, of course, and that’s why I’m such a Kresley Cole fan girl. And while I love all her female protagonists, Lila is something extra special. Her grit, resourcefulness and sass won me over from the get-go, and I’m cheering wildly for her to get her HEA. Luckily, I’m pretty confident that she will overcome all obstacles to find true love and save herself and her realm. Her eventual success, I’m betting, will be the result of Lila’s life’s motto: “Figure it the fuck out.”  FITFO for short.

I love FITFO. I’ve lived a goodly portion of my life under the assumption that absolutely everything is figure-out-able, in the immortal words of my favorite business guru, Marie Forleo. As you all know, I’m pretty confident in my intellectual capacity and I’m usually sure that with a combination of applied brainpower and a bit of creativity, I can always figure it the fuck out.

In college, I decided I needed to get out of Dodge and find a geographic cure for all my problems. My parents were less than supportive and my bank account was pretty flimsy. So, how to go abroad and have someone pay me to do it?  I figured it out; I talked my way into a post-college program and convinced them that even though I hadn’t graduated, I would be an asset to their organization. My parents were less than pleased that their financial obstacles had been worked around. Oh, well. At least I waved to them as the plane took off.

I’ve had to figure out how to navigate new jobs, difficult bosses, stupid administrative rules, mean girls, queen bees and wannabes. How to get my kids the resources they need. How to get out of my own way to marry the man of my dreams, and how to age gracefully (or, at least, that’s what I tell myself).  I’ve figured out legal problems that have stumped lawyers, insurance issues that caused grown actuaries to cry, and esoteric graduation requirements. No matter the situation, I’m always confident that there’s a solution if only I’m smart enough, determined enough and savvy enough to find it.

FITFO has been an excellent strategy throughout most of my life. It’s gotten me out of many a dark place and over many a high mountain. My superlative ability to figure it the fuck out has led to what some might call intellectual arrogance.  I just call it “justified.”

But there is a downside to all this stellar brain activity of mine: it leads to the sometimes erroneous conclusion that just about everything is subject to being figured out. And if I haven’t figured it out, it must be because I haven’t tried hard enough or long enough or smartly enough. At which point I double down on my efforts and wait for solutions to rain down upon me because I’m just that good—roadblocks should disappear before me as quickly as the bag of M&M’s I promised myself would last the week.

And therein lies the rub: the one thing that doesn’t seem subject to the rules of FITFO is… me. Sadly, when it comes to myself and my bad habits, character defects and addictive behaviors, I simply cannot figure it the fuck out. And neither can any of the rest of us, if the prevalence of both self-help books and the people who continue to need them are any indication.

One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that eating too much and moving too little will result in more flab than fitness. Nor does one need an Ivy League degree to understand that spending more money than one makes will result in debt. Or that excessive gambling usually doesn’t end well. Or that heavy drinking leads to miserable hangovers. We don’t really need self-help books to tell us that being successful means leaving our comfort zone, getting our fat asses off the couch, working hard and daring to take risks. We don’t need expert advice to figure out that relationships fail when we keep score, believe our partners should read our minds, put ourselves first all the time and expect our other half to actually be our other half.  And yet we continue to read how-to books to figure out how to live. And then we continue to live badly. Or at least not as well as we could.

Because FITFO doesn’t apply to us. I can figure out your life easily. And you can probably figure out mine. But we are more limited when it comes to helping ourselves. It sucks. But it is what it is, and if we know this, maybe, sometimes, we can figure out ways around our own blind spots and inadequacies. If not, we can continue to read self-help books instead of actually helping ourselves. I’m not sure, but I’m going to keep reading about Lila in Wicked Abyss while I figure it the fuck out.

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