At the beginning of this year someone asked me, “What did 2019 teach you?”. I thought about it. Last year was a brutal year for me; in a week I lost the person who I thought was going to be in my life forever, I lost one of my closest friends; I nearly dropped out of university because I failed an exam, which I found out in the middle of sitting another exam; I found out I needed serious and major surgery and I honestly didn’t know how to get up in the morning. I just knew I had to.
It was a year where horrible things happened, and it broke me. Leaving me with memories of people I’ve lost forever. But I have a lot of other memories, too. This was the year I found myself, where I found new people in my life who I never expected and now can’t imagine being without. Where I rode a motorbike for the first time, travelled more of the world, found a job that I loved and felt respected in, graduated university with an honours degree and ticked off things in my bucket list. So, really, 2019 gave me as much as it took from me. I lived it just as much as I survived it, it just depends on how I look at it.
So, to answer their question: what did 2019 teach me? That rock bottom can be a springboard.
And that, my friends, is the entire message in Laura Clery’s incredibly powerful biography memoir, Idiot.
From YouTube star and Facebook Video sensation Laura Clery comes a collection of comedic essays in the vein of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby and You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein.
Laura Clery makes a living by sharing inappropriate comedy sketches with millions of strangers on the Internet. She writes songs about her anatomy, talks trash about her one-eyed rescue pug, and sexually harasses her husband, Stephen. And it pays the bills!
Now, in her first-ever book, Laura recounts how she went from being a dangerously impulsive, broke, unemployable, suicidal, cocaine-addicted narcissist, crippled by fear and hopping from one toxic romance to the next…to a more-happy-than-not, somewhat rational, meditating, vegan yogi with good credit, a great marriage, a fantastic career, and four unfortunate-looking rescue animals. Still, above all, Laura remains an amazingly talented, adorable, and vulnerable, self-described…Idiot.
With her signature brand of offbeat, no-holds-barred humor, Idiot introduces you to a wildly original—and undeniably relatable—new voice.
I had heard of Clery before I read her book, but I only really knew her as the funny woman who made entertaining videos with her husband on Facebook. I didn’t know anything about her life. In her strong memoir, she lays herself bare. Showing everyone that it’s ok to be authentically yourself in a world that makes you feels like you shouldn’t.
To me, her voice was a blend between Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Both of which I loved. Her genuineness in wanting to help other people is astounding. Clery has an enormous will, a huge heart, and has this incredible capacity for survival. She’s taken all this darkness in her life, all these low points and hardships, and used it help other people who are walking through the same. She has poured herself onto the pages and used her experiences to help the people who are hurting badly just hurt a little bit less.
Clery has taken her darkest experiences that life gave her and picked herself up, dusted herself off, switched it around and turned it into light.
There are two main things I feel we can learn from Idiot. The first, is that people change. In her book she wrote:
“I believe that people can change. If they have the willingness, if they see a need within themselves, they can reach down within and change. I hate when people use the phrase “you are who you are” as an excuse to let themselves be less than the person they could be.”
― Laura Clery, Idiot
Clery knows what most people don’t: it is possible to change. But first you have to actually want to change. Which, sometimes, is harder than actually changing.
The second, is that real courage isn’t the absence of fear but instead it’s doing the right thing regardless of it. In the same way, real confidence isn’t the absence of insecurity, but knowing you have real worth despite it.
Every day Clery fought off her own demons, a feat which most of have yet to master for ourselves. Be she shows us that it can be done, and we are the ones to determine our own worth and decide what it is we are afraid of.
“Brave. I didn’t feel brave at all. I felt scared out of my mind. But I suppose bravery is not being unafraid, it’s being shit-your-pants-scared-out-of-your-mind and doing the damn thing anyway.”
― Laura Clery, Idiot
If you only read one book this year, my advice is let it be this one. I read the whole book in three hours because I couldn’t put it down. Idiot is clearly written, witty and full of humour, but it is also a life-affirming story of love, patience and survival. All the way through it we learn that she was not alone. And we’re not either.