Funk: A Bad Word and Feeling

I find myself falling into funks lately. A symptom of being in my mid twenties with friends I adore but whom I don’t see as much as I would like on account of everyone trying to make something of themselves; a job in which I am underutilized and in which I both under and over perform; an inability to cook myself balanced meals; and generally feeling like a fraud and that any moment I am going to be found out by the authorities and then decommissioned for failure to activate my sleeper agent programming before I can be tried in a court of law. Of what am I guilty? Being an undisciplined lame-o. Thus far, I feel worse about this crime than any other I’ve committed.

Jump to minute 4:35 of this clip for a quote so deeply ingrained in my psyche that it can be considered “formative.” I recommend you not watch any of the clip prior to this mark unless you want to feel 16 again and like your soul is being crushed by your crush. Hard.

“This life has been a test. If this had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do.” – Angela Chase, My So Called Life, Episode 7

Actually scratch that. Watch it. It contains gems from every character in who appears on screen (except the Leto brothers). For example:
Graham: “Why not? No really. How did locking kids in their room get such a bad rap?”
Danielle: “Hi.”
Brian: “What?! You think Jordan Catalano will understand one word of the Bicycle Thief? You only understand it because I explained it to you!”

But back to the topic at hand. What is a person to do when faced with, not an existential crisis, but a mundane crisis such as the one I face monthly? I think the answer is “de-funk.” Here is a list of current defunking methods I have tried with great success. And some of the pros and cons that go with them.

  1. Drink like you’re still in university. Browning out is better than blacking out. I can afford cab rides. Hangovers aren’t so bad when you’ve learned to fill and place water bottles next to your bed before you go out, when you don’t have a partner or children to take care of, and generally have obligations that can be cancelled via text message without much explanation. PRO: I spent the last two years of university dating someone who didn’t like to go out so I missed out on the debauchery. CON: I’m too out of shape (drinking wise and heart wise) for boot-and-rally to be a legitimate life choice and missing the farmer’s market on Sunday morning sucks.
  2. Take a shower using every body product you own. Sometimes an emotional funk can be scrubbed away if you have a loofa handy.
  3. Clean your house. If you have OCD tendencies like me, a really good kitchen or bathroom scrubbing combined with room tidying can do wonders. Sometimes an external de-funking helps an internal funk.
  4. Organize your digital libraries. What could be better than all your music files properly organized with the correct data tags? Nothing. Except for endless supplies of Thai Food.
  5. Make your virtual life more closely resemble real life. Go to your Facebook friends page and start defriending anyone who: You would avoid talking to if you ran into them on the sidewalk or in a bar; You’ve removed from your newsfeed due to emotional scar tissue or extremely annoying and frequenting posting; You met them once at a friend’s party but haven’t seen them in over 8 months. If you find yourself justifying keeping them around because you knew them in high school – ask yourself if you ever hung out with them outside of school hours or outside of mandatory team/club events. If the answer is no, defriend. If you met them once at a friend’s party, defriend.
  6. Order Thai Food for dinner. There is no funk drunken noodles cannot in some way make better. If it’s a really bad funk, add pumpkin empanadas. You just  might start feeling a bit better.
  7. Hang out with your friends and resolve not to talk about your funk. Sometimes company really is the best medicine. Hearing about other people’s successes and tribulations can offer a perspective jolt. This really only works if you resolve not to discuss the funk you’re in. No one wants to hang out with a Negative Nancy or Negative Nathan. And your friends are likely to affirm your feelings of funk when they should just kick you in the ass and send you over to Reddit’s First World Problems.
  8. Sign a strongly worded contract with yourself. I recently signed a very strongly worded, onerous contract with myself which I was only able to uphold for four days. Clearly self-control and discipline is my best quality. PRO: Signing a contract with your future self reminds you that your past self had a revelation and wants you to take something very seriously. CON: Your past self is an asshole for committing you to ridiculous things like physical fitness. Who needs to climb a mountain? Or walk the metro escalator when it breaks down at least once a week? Or feel good about themselves naked? Not me, that’s for sure. Cars were created for a reason, as were elevators and celibacy. NBD.
  9. Apply for jobs. I have it on good authority from friends who are proactive and self-confident that when you’re open to a big change in life, like a new city or a new job, applying for jobs can be an empowering thing to do when you’re not under pressure to find a monthly paycheck. Apparently if you do this while you’re already employed you can take the time to develop a couple different cover letters that you feel good about and from there sending off your CV for consideration isn’t so hard. PRO: Proactivity is empowering, optimism about life possibilities is a great drug, and “always doing the hard work early” is a lesson my dad drilled into my head at a young age in soccer practice so it must be true. CON: Who has time to apply for potential jobs when you don’t have to? What if you get an interview? What if you get the job? What if you have to move cities? So many serious questions for something you did on a lark.
  10. Go exercise. Endorphins are a wonderful chemical and even if all you want to do is sleep your funk away, using your muscles and lungs will probably make you legitimately sleepy. High impact, low impact, restorative yoga. Take your pick. None of it will hurt. PRO: There is nothing but pros here, assuming you don’t twist an ankle or tweak your back in a high lunge side twist in yoga class. CON: This can be really hard to make yourself do when you’re in a funk.
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