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Cartoonist and blogger Allie Brosh amassed a huge Internet following for “Hyperbole and a Half,” her site that combines uncomfortably true-to-life thoughts with deliberately childlike cartoons. After reading this brief excerpt from her new book, check out the Salon interview with her here.
I like to believe that I would behave heroically in a disaster situation. I like to think this because it makes me feel good about myself. Conveniently, it is very unlikely that I will ever actually have to do anything to prove it. As long as I never encounter a disaster situation, I can keep believing I’m a hero indefinitely.
Similarly, I can safely believe that I am the type of person who would donate a kidney to a loved one, give a million dollars to help save the animals, and survive a biological disaster due to my superior immune system and overwhelming specialness. As long as no one I love ever needs a kidney, I don’t become a millionaire, and my immune system is never put to the test by an antibiotic-resistant super flu, these are just things I can believe for free.
It gets a bit trickier when I want to believe a thing about myself that actually requires me to do or think something. The things I am naturally inclined to do and think are not the same as the things I want to believe I would do and think. And I’m not even slightly realistic about what I want to be. I’m greedy and conceited, and I feel like I deserve to be impressed by myself.
Unfortunately, I am not disciplined enough to maintain my behavior up to the standards of my ridiculously optimistic self-image, and I possess a great number of undesirable qualities, so it’s a daily struggle to prevent myself from ruining my own fantasy.
But, against all odds, my gigantic ego continues to attempt greatness.And every day, it falls extremely short because, as powerful as it is, it is not even close to as powerful as what it’s up against.
The most basic level of maintaining my self-image is just holding myself back from acting on my impulses. I am constantly bombarded by bizarre, nonsensical urges, and if I didn’t care about my identity, I would just do all of them.
It would be fucking mayhem.
Fortunately for other people, it would be insulting to my identity if I did these things, and this successfully scares me away from becoming a menace to myself and everyone.
But I still have to know about the impulses.
Excerpted from “Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened” by Allie Brosh. Copyright Touchstone, 2013. All rights reserved.