Diane Lee - What I Know for Sure Update

101 Things I Know for Sure: An Update

In 2011, I wrote a post that put forward a number of things that I knew for sure. These were observations and experiences over almost 50 years. I read through that post recently (I’m updating my blog, in case you’re wondering) and thought it was due for an update. Actually, this is not so much of an update, because what I knew back then still rings true on re-reading. Rather, this is a 10 years’ later addendum. I am writing it as a list because this is the only way I could conceptualise it, and I wanted to try a hermit crab style essay.

  1.  Your family is either a source of joy, or a source of pain and trauma.
  2. If your family is a source of joy, you are fortunate and I envy you.
  3. If your family is a source of pain or trauma, this will affect you in more ways than you will probably ever know, even if you consider yourself successful.
  4. If you achieve despite your family being a source of pain and trauma, you ruminate anyway and often about what more you could have achieved, who you could have become.
  5. You will want your own children to counteract the pain and trauma of your own upbringing.
  6. You vow to do a better job than your mother.
  7. Be careful who you choose to father your children because nature, not nurture, will win.
  8. Children are the worst return on investment ever, and I envy those women who don’t have children.
  9. Your children will want another mother, not you.
  10. The “other mother” your children wants is married, doesn’t work, lives in a big house, is wealthy and has a large extended family.
  11. Your children will rebel against you, the unwanted mother, by being conservative. They will ultimately reject you.
  12. You will be in competition for your children with the “other mother”, or other mothers your child decides would be a better mother than you.
  13. You will be in competition with your children because they loathe what you stand for and the attention you receive for being different.
  14. Children will have their own version of events, and this version will not portray you in a favourable light.
  15. Children choose this version because it suits their narrative and the stories they tell themselves to justify their behaviour towards you.
  16. Children will try and control and manipulate you because they want your money, even though they say they don’t.
  17. If you cannot be controlled and manipulated, children will remove you from their life.
  18. Children will also withhold your grandchildren to punish you.
  19. Children will have empathy for everyone else in their lives, except for you.
  20. What ever you do to try and mend the rift with your children, it will be the wrong thing.
  21. Children will involve others in their drama, to your detriment.
  22. When others are involved, these people will blame you because they can’t possibly be complicit.
  23. When others say I’m sorry you feel that way, it’s not an apology.
  24. You are horrified at your children’s wedding because you realise you’ve been thrown away.
  25. Despite what your children say, you are a good enough parent and that is good enough.
  26. The way your life pans out is never how you thought it would.
  27. That lovely farmer you dated briefly in the 80s? You should have married him.
  28. You will have to reinvent yourself over and over again.
  29. If you don’t reinvent yourself, you will become superfluous and inconsequential and extinct.
  30. Acceptance is one of the most difficult things you can do. It’s even harder than forgiveness.
  31. Don’t accept injustice or evil.
  32. Speak up if you see injustice or evil, even if it costs you.
  33. If you don’t speak up about injustice or evil, it continues and will escalate.
  34. No behaviour is new behaviour. It starts with the least amount you can get away with.
  35. Red flags and anxiety are information. Don’t ignore them.
  36. Patterns are always there. You just need to pay attention.
  37. No good comes from surprises.
  38. Delete your Instagram account if you don’t like surprises.
  39. The government is not your friend. The government is a friend of business, kickbacks and the personal agendas of politicians.
  40. Education is supposed to be fair: you work hard, you do well.
  41. When education is not fair, it is because the course design is godawful, and the teaching is shite.
  42. University education is a meat grinder, where students are a minor concern and major irritant.
  43. University education used to be about the joy of learning.
  44. University education now sucks the joy of learning out of its students.
  45. Speaking up about the quality of your education is a must.
  46. Don’t believe self-help books, even popular ones with TED talks.
  47. A self-help book about attachment styles will have you attaching to a relationship with a covert narcissist.
  48. A self-help book about vulnerability will leave you vulnerable to being in a relationship with a covert narcissist.
  49. Your family will dictate your attachment style and vulnerability to dysfunctional relationships.
  50. I am not wired for relationships because my mother primed me to have a high tolerance for dysfunction.
  51. This does not extend to workplaces, where I have a low tolerance for dysfunction and quit often.
  52. You think your mother is to blame, but your father who disappeared when you were four and left you with her is the true culprit.
  53. Your writing gives those with narcissism and other personality disorders a handbook for how to inflict the maximum amount of pain on you.
  54. Going to Vietnam was an easy decision, but a naïve one.
  55. Coming back to Australia was a hard decision, but a wise one.
  56. Travel is cool but there is no place like home, and by that I mean your own patch of dirt on this Earth.
  57. It is always the wrong time to buy a house.
  58. Living alone is peaceful and drama free.
  59. Backyard chickens are both the question and the answer.
  60. I would rather have a one or two good friends than a roomful of acquaintances. Even then they don’t know me. Not really.
  61. No matter good your one or two friends are, you still have no one to call in case of an emergency.
  62. You put your children’s name down in case of an emergency, and hope there never is one.
  63. You put your children’s name down in case of an emergency, and use their maiden name, because fuck it.
  64. Quitting is good, and you should do it more often than you do and before you think you should.
  65. You won’t quit because you’ve sunk costs and your escalation of commitment to a losing course of action.
  66. Quitting takes guts.
  67. You will cycle through weight gain and weight loss every five or six years.
  68. Weight loss is easy if you give up rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.
  69. Rice, pasta, bread and potatoes are convenient, cheap and yummy.
  70. Most workplaces are dysfunctional.
  71. Most workplaces are committed to maintaining the hierarchy of power at all costs.
  72. If you find work and a workplace you gel with, this is rare.
  73. If you find work and a workplace you gel with, don’t get too comfortable because it will change and become dysfunctional.
  74. I can count on one hand the number of good bosses I’ve had since I started working 45 years ago.
  75. I cannot hide my feelings of disdain when I encounter a bad boss. Or a dysfunctional workplace.
  76. I welcome being pensioned off.
  77. Money gives you power because you have options and can’t be controlled.
  78. You become more conservative as you age.
  79. Nothing good happens after dark.
  80. Giving up alcohol has a radical effect on your social life.
  81. In certain circumstances, you don’t need a car.
  82. If you don’t own a car, you save a shit ton of money.
  83. If you don’t own a car, you will have to make some sacrifices. Mostly going out at night.
  84. Always renew your driver’s license, because not owning a car is a minor problem that can be overcome.
  85. The woke are just communists, and that has never turned out well. Ask the people of China, Russia and North Korea.
  86. The currency of the woke is oppression.
  87. Cancel culture is a cancer.
  88. Flakiness and tardiness is the handiwork of the devil.
  89. Animal companions are the best, until they die.
  90. When your animal companion dies, you will be heartbroken. More than you ever thought possible.
  91. There is no such thing as romantic love.
  92. Romantic love is nothing but attachment, brain chemicals and hormones.
  93. Romantic love is one of the most damaging notions a person can subscribe to.
  94. Running is sexy, but walking is easy, sustainable and therapeutic.
  95. I have 30 odd years of life left, if I’m lucky.
  96. I have no real plan for the next 30 odd years except to keep doing what I’m doing.
  97. Death is always on my mind, but not in a suicidal way. Mostly.
  98. Control is an illusion. Chaos permeates life.
  99. Creativity is magic and the closest thing to immortality you’ll get.
  100. Everyone is full of shit: there are just different degrees and levels of awareness.
  101. Ignoring reality is easy. Ignoring the consequences of ignoring reality: not so much.

About the #12Essays2024 Challenge

I haven’t given my blog much love or attention over the last couple of years. I wasn’t in the headspace to write, at least not the personal essays I’m known for. But in the words of George Costanza: I’m back, baby. I’ve made a commitment to write one essay a month in 2024 — a slimmed down version of the #26Essays2017 challenge I set for myself in the first year I was in Vietnam. I will be experimenting with structure and form, so you might see some weird stuff. Please stick with me. Some essays will be short, and others will be split into parts because they are long. Maybe I’ll end up publishing them into a collection. Who knows?


Image credit: JL G from Pixabay 

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