When the Instagram account ShubkaTomsk followed me, my life was in the gutter. I was transitioning effortlessly into my cold-weather foul mood (a funner name for seasonal depression) while going through a pretty brutal breakup. My phone's notification window was mostly comprised of ridiculously involved text fights, friends asking "U ok?" and Seamless telling me about crystal balls they deep-fried.
But when I saw this username pop up on my lock screen, it felt like a window to Narnia -- a fanciful, faraway world full of blonde women and fur. Thousands of dead-eyed smilers looked out at me, imploring me to buy floor-length mink vests for 30,000 rubles, which I think works out to "four Seamless meals." I'm not ashamed to say this account pulled me out of the darkness, gave me a reason to go on, and permanently changed my life. I am happy to share that wisdom with you in my very first column. Here is what I learned:
#14. Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Past
Invariably, when you're in a slump, you'll run into people you knew from high school who seem to have been doing great the entire time since you saw each other last. That's gross, and you're right to be bothered. Anyway, when one of these born-and-bred winners asks you, "So, Ludmila, how's things? Did you hear I'm an astronaut now?" you might feel like you're nothing but a weirdo fur model. But don't throw your life story under the bus! Let's say you murdered Cookie Monster, a polar bear, several raccoons, and a Scottish man. While some people would make you feel ashamed for that (so much blood -- why?!?), the fact is you are who you are, and no amount of bribing town magistrates to turn a blind eye to your criminal actions is going to change that. Your life is a patchwork quilt of your experiences, and your coat is a patchwork trophy of your many kills. Have pride!
#13. Don't Stay In a Relationship Just Because You're Afraid to Leave
We've all made the mistake of keeping someone around just because we're afraid to be alone. This model has been there too. Look into her eyes. You can tell this woman has dated a man who owns several tigers. Can you imagine breaking up with a guy who owns several tigers? It's best to cut things off earlier in your relationship, before he has the chance to get too attached, and before the big cats have your scent. Be brave! If they break their chains, you can run fast with your strong, nimble legs. If you're wearing this coat at the time, they might even think you've already been attacked by a much swifter animal and move on to less-occupied prey. Either way, what a valuable lesson that applies to all of our lives!
#12. Be Yourself
Look. Look at how confident this woman is. She's wearing the chemically-modified corpses of several foxes, and yet she's all, "I'm just doing me right now." Have you ever been that confident in your life? I sure haven't. Plenty of people are super socially anxious having conversations with anyone who isn't their four best friends or the people who gave birth to them. It's like they're looking at you saying, "Who does she think she is in this coat?" or "What is she, a painting that escaped from the modern art museum and is trying to blend in," or "Isn't one of those the state flag of Maryland?" or "Why do her elbows have eyes?" or "How could she confidently place her hand on her hip when she's wearing a skinned second-rate Muppet?" Well, chances are they're more worried about themselves than they are about you. So you might as well chuck all your fears out the window and live life in your own skin -- while covered in something else's skin.
#11. Allow Yourself The Simple Pleasure Of Murdering Ferrets
Self-care is so important in our crazy, mixed-up world. It can feel impossible to find a way to make time for you. But remember: You're worth it! You need to feel the rush of taking a life every once in a while, and legit nobody likes ferrets. You could kill them and wear them on your face, and not one person would give a care. Nuzzle your Slavic cheek against its lifeless flank and say, "Ahhhhh, just what the doctor ordered!"
#10. There's Nothing Stupid Or Boring About Being Happy
As an arguably smart person who's been through some shit, you may come to think of your dark side as who you are, that being judgy is a badge of honor, and that happy people must simply be dumber. As someone who's been out of college for more than 12 minutes, I can confirm that this attitude is patently false and a total waste of time. Days during which you are alive are a finite resource, so stop clinging to your grumpiness. No one's going to think less of you if you start being grateful for the simple things, like wearing the hide of an endangered fox on your naked body. People want you to be happy! Unless they're PETA, those parade-rainers!
#9. Your Arms Can Bend In All Sorts of Ways
When you're working two jobs to make ends meet, it can feel like your only option is to keep your arms out straight in front of you, stiffly, like a zombie, and never ever bend them or put them down. Why limit yourself? You are capable of so much more than you know. Try putting your arm straight at your side with the other one bent on your hip, or even have one bent on your hip while the other one is bent on your shoulder. You are the captain of your own happiness -- and your arms! You are in charge of your arms.
#8. Don't Be Afraid to Carry Some Extra Coat Around For Later
Girl, you deserve so much coat! Give yourself 110 percent. Tote an extra tube of fur around with you all day, just in case that large wolf comes back and tears off half your sleeve in the ensuing struggle. You will NOT be eaten by a wolf. Not today! Not today, you dumbass wolf; we brought extra coat. Suck on that, ya shitty wolf! Wait, is that one of those Chernobyl superwolves? Oh no. Oh god n --