Rough Family Dinner Coming Up? Channel Your Literary Faves!

If you’re stuck with people you don’t like, try channeling these literary heroes to get through an otherwise unbearable dinner!

Book Culture Lifestyle Opinions Wellness

It’s always difficult being around people who just don’t get you. It’s even worse when those people are supposed to be your family. Unfortunately, not many of us can escape an awkward or even difficult family dinner whenever we’d like. So as the holidays approach we’d like to offer our readers some lessons and advice gained from our favorite literary heroes and heroines that might help this holiday season!

Remember You Are More Than Who People Say You Are

Crescent City

We can lean on many protagonists to learn this lesson from. You may find yourself at a painful dinner where a parent or sibling may be denying your identity. If that happens, remind yourself that no one can tell you who you are! You get to decide that and no one else! Look at Bryce Quinlan from Sarah J Maas’ Crescent City; everyone assumes she’s a party girl with no morals, but she’s got the biggest heart in the world. If Bryce could be there, we bet she’d tell you that no one gets to have control over your life like that! You are who you are, and the people who truly matter will accept you.

Don’t Let Cruel or Ignorant Words Linger

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

No one can help how they feel. Also, feelings are nothing to be ashamed of either. But sometimes people are mean to get a rise out of you. In that case, do your best not to give them the satisfaction. If someone tells a bad joke at your expense, think of any of the girls from Ann Brashares’ The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Carmen, Bridget, Lena and Tibby all have their difficulties to deal with––especially Carmen who is fat-shamed often (something all too common during the holidays). Take a page from their book, and focus on the positive instead.

But Also, Stand Up For Your Beliefs

The Hunger Games

If it is safe to do so, of course! If you are in a space where you are able to communicate your discomfort or disapproval safely, then definitely do so! No matter your age, your close and extended family should respect your opinions and beliefs! We like to look to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for inspiration there. Katniss has never held anything back when she’s stood up for her convictions––even when it risked her life. But also, Katniss is a fictional character at the end of the day, so practice discretion when you choose when to say something!

Find Someone To Lean On

Stephen Chbosky's 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'

Like Charlie from Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower, we all know the importance of having a friend by our side. Even if you cannot bring a companion to dinner, make sure you have a good support system to vent to and distract yourself with before and after! While we cannot help going through hard and difficult moments, we don’t have to go through them alone. Having a friend who can make you laugh and will sympathize with your situation is a great way to feel more hopeful.

Be A Conversational Wizard

The Winner's Curse

If you’re worried about a family member bringing up embarrassing moments or triggering topics, you can do your best to keep them distracted. Not all battles have to be won forcefully, so if you are sly and clever, you can keep their mind on other topics. The strategic thinker, Kestrel from The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski shows us that we can be more subtle in how we choose to survive. If this approach works for you, then by all means, go for it!

Use Healthy Coping Mechanisms

looking for alaska john green literary thanksgiving dinner

Instead of doing something potentially harmful to yourself or others, be mindful of choosing healthy coping mechanisms! Go for a walk after dinner, play a video game, or journal your thoughts down somewhere. Think about what makes you happy, and use that to keep yourself going, even when it’s hard! Consider Alaska Young from John Green’s Looking for Alaska––while drinking and smoking may seem like good ways to distract yourself, try for something a little more constructive this year around! Even Alaska loved to read, so maybe start there.

Know When To Seek Help

Perhaps this is the most important lesson to be learned. We do not have one specific book character for this one, because we believe they would all feel this way. You should always put yourself and your mental health first! If you find yourself truly struggling and needing to talk to someone, reach out to a professional. Consider the Suicide & Prevention Hotline (in the United States), available by texting 988. If you are located outside the United States, refer to this comprehensive list. If you know someone who is struggling, recommend these resources to them too!

And so there we have it. Hopefully we can all find some comfort in these characters and strive to handle difficult moments the way they might! If worst comes to worst though, at least at the end of the day books will be there for us to turn to. In these fictional worlds, everything is right as rain again.

For 10 pieces of advice from literature to simplify your life, click here!