So today, I'm going to rant about people who give advice. Cutting edge, right? No one has EVER complained on the Internet about other people giving unsolicited/unhelpful advice. Or maybe you only read the blogs where they manufacture sunshine and rainbows and butterflies. I don't know. All I know is that, even though I've read it and commented on it a thousand times, it never gets old to hear people talk about the advice people gave them that was completely unwarranted and unasked for and obnoxious!
And for those of you who don't follow me on twitter (WHY NOT?), typing the word "obnoxious" just reminded me that I made up a new word recently and you can feel free to use it: obnoxion. It's the noun form of obnoxious (which is really obnoxiousness but I find that cumbersome and, oh heck I'll just say it, OBNOXIOUS). So when you're trying to describe a situation that requires the noun form instead of the adjective, go ahead and use it. Need an example? I just happen to have one ready:
Once I have made up my mind about a difficult and/or personal decision, telling me how I should do it differently is not only a waste of time, it is an obnoxion.
Do you see how I somehow made my tangent loop back to the original topic? It's called
Anyway, since I have never attempted a wedding, a marriage, a pregnancy, and/or parenting, I have yet to experience this onslaught of advice giving. Or wait! Yes I have! Apparently, once you turn eighteen and strike out on your own and start to make big! life! decisions! on your own, you get a sign of your own: "I may have parents who are upstanding citizens and decent human beigns who are completely okay with my choices and I have used even better resources than you or your children had available to you fifteen years ago, but because I am under the age of 35, my brain is made of MUSH and I require YOU, perfect stranger/person who has only known me for six months, to tell me everything I'm doing wrong!"
Now, yes. I'm sure that not every eighteen year old makes the best choices. In fact, having recently been a teen, having hung out with a lot of teens, and now working in ministry with teens, I can tell you that many of them are IN FACT making bad choices. But since I am neither the parent to nor school counselor/therapist of said teens, I BUTT THE HECK OUT. Plus? When I was eighteen, I was working full-time in the summer and headed to college in the fall on a partial scholarship to getting two degrees at the same time. I'm not saying this to say I'M BETTER THAN ALL OTHER EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLDS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DIDN'T GO TO COLLEGE AND GET TWO DEGREES. I'm saying this to say that I was prety driven and thoughtful at eighteen.
And I have two parents who were incredibly engaged in my life, both educationally and otherwise, so I wasn't going without advice or direction. And now that I'm 24 and have said degrees and have held fairly responsible positions in the offices that I have worked in and have survived occupational hell and possibly undiagnosed PTSD, not to mention the fact that my parents and siblings are still heavily involved in my day-to-day life, I think I am qualified to make my own decisions. My decisions about my own life and my own financial/romantic/spiritual/dietary/recreational future.
So when the Advice Givers (who are not my family and/or particularly close friends and/or my spiritual leaders) put on their Advice Giving Hats, I don't see this as philanthropy. I don't see it as generous and helpful and genuine. I see it as rude and selfish and UNDERMINING my adulthood.
Because when I came to you, coworker/distant friend/annoying old lady at church/virtual stranger and confided in you (or answered your pestery questions) about the choice I made and the absolutely legitimate reasons I made that choice (and you even admit they are good reasons), your "yeah, but"s or your "have you thought about"s or even your (seemingly well-meaning) "I'm concerned for you because of"s tell me that you don't trust me to make the best decision FOR ME and you would like to make a better one ON MY BEHALF.
When you say those things, I DON'T hear, "I care about you."
When you say those things, I hear "You're making a bad decision." When you say those things, I hear "You're too young to know any better." When you say those things, I hear "You're stupid."
So, Advice Givers. Before you put on your Advice Giving Hats, put yourself in my situation. How do YOU normally make decisions? Do you usually think long and hard about them (maybe even pray long and hard about them) before you finally decide? Assume I have, too (since I TOLD YOU I DID). How would YOU hear that kind of advice if you were in my situation? How helpful is it really? If you're thinking of it, I probably thought of it, too. And then, PLEASE! Think about whether your advice is meant to help ME or make YOUR life easier. Because my decision? Not about you. And if it somehow affects you, but is ultimately my decision to make? Then it's still not about you.
And now that I am past my allotted time, I will end this rant and ask that you all submit comments in the form of THINGS THAT ARE NOT ADVICE (I'm thinking of a blog title change here people, that's how serious I am), but that are THINGS THAT ARE STORIES ABOUT UNWANTED ADVICE. Because as much as I hate it happening to me? Reading other people's misery always makes me feel better. Does that make me a bad person? Don't answer that.