How To Even…Improve Your Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Self

By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe

Self-hatred is the third biggest American pastime, after dressing up our pets to pretend they’re getting married, and fascism (not in that order). It’s a fun and rewarding activity that accomplishes nothing good while also perpetuating itself — kind of a perpetual motion engine of depression. Self-hatred produces many fine products such as sarcasm (see: this entire page), alienation, binge eating, and all sorts of other things. In fact, self-hatred has a GDP that rivals several small nations.

But eventually, some people grow weary of self-hatred and want to change. We call those people quitters. But they have us blocked, so. Luckily, your friendly neighborhood How To Even gurus are willing to jump on any bandwagon with even the remotest possibility of profit, so we’re going to examine ways to improve your horrible, disgusting, waste of an existence in easy to follow steps that will lead you to self-love and enlightenment in under ten minutes (of reading). And it will totally work and not at all be made up drivel. YOU’RE WELCOME.

The Ever-Present Specter of Mortality

Before you take the first step to improve yourself (see Complain, below), there’s a tiny half-obstacle you need to deal with. That little smudge mark is Death. Sure, you’re tired of your dumb old self. But with your luck, just when you’ve rid yourself of the last of your bad habits, gotten in shape, reconciled with your ex, and perfected how to make cacio e pepe, along comes someone with a chainsaw and zips off your head, maybe even killing you.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that’s plopped you down where you are today. Why bother improving when you’ll be dead before George R. R. Martin finishes A Game of Thrones? Luckily, there’s a way to short circuit this kind of otherwise irrefutable logic.

Write A Letter to your Future Self

You’re pretty good at pretending, already. You’re pretending that shirt goes with those pants, for example. So how about pretending that you think tomorrow will come and you can accomplish all this. We’re saying pretend there will be a future and you’re looking toward it.

Let’s put it another way. You know what’s great? Gloating. Another way of saying this is that it’s good to focus your plans and energy and probably chi or some shit. So think about who you want to be. And then write a letter to that insufferable asshole.

Here’s an example:

Dear Jackass,

What the fuck is wrong with you? JESUS CHRIST WHY WERE YOU DOING THIS TO US?! Also, take some vitamins.


Okay, so we got off topic. Let’s try that again. Take two more examples:

Example Two:

Dear Future Self,

Please go back in time and GIVE YOUR MOTHER AN ABORTION.

Yours truly,

Me (You)

This is an example of how NOT to write a letter to your future self. The time paradoxes alone are a bitch.

Example Three:

Dear Used-To-Be-Loser,

Things are probably so awesome now that you made the slightest effort toward self-improvement. I bet you’re taking all the credit for it, but it was me that did it all, you fuck.YOU’RE STANDING ON MY SHOULDERS NOW PAY ME!!!!!

This an example of how…er…well, this one is better than the last one, anyway. So there’s that. Let’s move on.


The first step in any change is to complain about it. We would say “to anyone who is willing to listen,” but let’s be honest, unwillingness to listen won’t stop you. Complain to your family. Complain to your friends. Complain to your coworkers. Complain to strangers on the bus who were unfortunate enough to exist near you. Complain to the squirrels in your parking lot. Make vague posts on social media . Just generally get your quota in, because once you start really trying to change, you won’t be able to complain anymore. It violates the bylaws.

Complaining serves a purpose, though — several, actually. First, it lowers expectations. After you’ve complained about yourself for a decade or two, any change at all, no matter how minuscule, will be applauded, because at very least it means you’ve shut the hell up. Also, complaining is a way of identifying what you really need to work on (other than your habit of complaining all the time). As you lay out all of your perceived problems and failings, you can examine them and see which ones really stick in your mind. The things you keep coming back to are the real problems and the things you really need to work on. Or not. This is probably all just a justification for you to keep complaining instead of doing any actual work. But it sounded good for a minute.

Make a Plan and Then Make Nachos

Now that you’ve complained for possibly a few millennia, it’s time to move forward. You already know what you want to change; you’ve been complaining about it to everyone. If you’re having trouble, ask them. They’ll be happy to tell you. In detail. But now, you’ve got to figure out how to change it. This will require some thinking. Luckily, not a lot of people know this, but nachos are actually brain food. So make yourself some nachos and tackle the problem, i.e., binge watch Golden Girls reruns. Eventually, something will come to you.

The important thing, here, is that you had some nachos, which were hopefully very tasty, and now you feel better about things. Also, you watched the greatest TV show ever made, which should definitely make you feel better about things. If neither of this work, you’ll probably have to give up and actually do some work. Sucker.

Do the Work

This sounds hard. We should probably skip it and go back to bed.

But wait! That’s just putting off the problem for another day, and haven’t you been doing that your whole, pathetic, smelly life? Here’s the thing. On some level, you think you deserve this miserable existence. That’s why you keep doing things that make you miserable. Or maybe you were cursed when you insulted a witch’s interior design skills. Who can say? Regardless, what we’re saying is giving up is a cop out. Be the person your dog thinks you are. If you don’t have a dog, probably just give up. Or get a dog. Which you don’t deserve because you’re such a worm. Back to giving up.

But there might be ways to motivate yourself. You could stand in front of a mirror and recite a list of everyone whose shoelaces you’d like to tie together. This won’t really help with the whole personal growth thing but it will kill a half-hour. Or maybe you could hire a bookie to take bets on whether you’ll succeed at self-improvement. When you win, you collect (minus commission). Of course, self-improvement isn’t necessarily a tangible thing, so you’re out $50. Sucker.

Or maybe find a 10-year-old boy to double-dog-dare you to make real change. You can’t welch on something like that. Maybe a regular dare, but not a double-dog. No way.

Seek Guidance

This is all hard work, and as our dime-store psychology above shows, you probably need some professional guidance to help you. It might be time to call Betty White. Why Betty? Because Bea Arthur is no longer with us. Unfortunately, Ms. White is no longer accepting our phone calls, so if you can get through to her, tell her hi and sorry about eating her leftover spaghetti that time we broke into her house.

But if Betty isn’t available, you might need to hire someone who knows things. Or maybe talk to strangers on the bus about it. Look, we’re not made of money. Therapists are expensive. But Jimmy Joe on the Blue Line is free, at least until his arraignment. (We’re not implying that all people who ride the bus are criminals. Our saintly mothers rode the bus. But Jimmy Joe is definitely a criminal. And an incompetent one.)

See, you’re dumb. So are we! If we weren’t dumb, we wouldn’t hate ourselves. We think. We’re actually not sure on that one, because we’re dumb. See? This would be the sort of thing we’d ask a professional.

But the point is, there’s probably a decent chance an outside perspective would help us lay out some actionable plans. Lots of big, meaningful words in that sentence that all basically mean we’re dumb and need help sometimes. And that’s okay. It’s just going to cost a lot of money.

One Day at a Time

It’s tempting to try to make a big change all at once, so that you never have to worry about it again. Unfortunately, big changes require a lot of paperwork, requisition forms signed in triplicate, departmental approvals, etc. It would be great if we could just flip a switch and make a big, sweeping change that fixes all our problems, and sometimes there are big things like that, like getting your foot unstuck from this trashcan or finding your keys. But mostly, meaningful change is slow. It’s not about making one choice or doing one big thing. It’s about making a lot of choices and doing a lot of small things maybe every day.

And if that doesn’t work, you can always hire people to follow you around and compliment you on how much you’ve grown and changed as a person. This can be a whole set of challenges in itself. Do you hire really attractive people, because when attractive people say things, you’re more inclined to listen, even though it’s often complete bullshit? Or do you hire maybe someone wearing glasses because they look smart, and you can trust smart people to tell you the truth you’re paying them to tell you? Probably the best bet is to hire attractive people wearing glasses.

Identify Negative Behaviors and Then Blame Them On Your Parents

We’re not trying to pigeon hole anyone. If you want to blame them on an ex or maybe some other family member, feel free. The important thing is the blaming.

But maybe you don’t want to give another person that kind of power over you. Maybe you want to get past the damage you’ve experienced. That’s cool. Sounds like a lot of work. But whatever.

Relativity to the Rescue

You know the saying a rising tide lifts all boats? Well, we don’t know what that means — we’re not Navy SEALs. We’re not even sure we know how to swim. How do you even figure that out? In any case, here’s the idea. What if all the boats around you sank and you were left floating pretty?

The truth is, improving the horrible flaming forty-car-pile-up of your life is hella hard. Could un-improving everyone else around you be that much harder? We’re not saying you actually have to sabotage the lives of everyone you know. Sure, it sounds like fun, but it would be unethical, which we’re fine with. More importantly — it would take a lot planning and work, which we are not fine with, like, super not very fine. Instead, use the power of your mind, which takes no work at all. Just look around. Take that guy with the sports car. He seems like he’s doing great, right? King of the world. Except he can’t get an erection unless his penis is being stung by wasps. And the wasps all make fun of his fashion sense. Also, you know, sucks for the wasps. Let’s put it another way. No matter how rich, attractive, and/or well-liked a person is, everybody poops themselves sometimes. We’re not saying a lot, but every so often. That supermodel, that billionaire, they’ve got poopy drawers. At some point. I mean, they’re still not as big of losers are you, but they’re not perfect.

Forgive Yourself

This is practically impossible. Nachos it is!

The only blog you’ll ever need. By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe Archives:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store