9.22.2011

THINGS THAT ARE NOT ADVICE

Okay guys, I only have a half hour before I can go home from work and so I need to write this post all fast because I am trying to post more often but my evening is excessively full on Thursdays what with the pretending to sing and being good at computers and in case you are wondering why there is a lack of commas in this post it's not because I am a grammatical rebel (because come on please have you met me?) but actually to give you the impression of how fast I am really talking/typing and that THERE IS NO TIME FOR COMMAS because commas mean pauses and you know I don't have a lot of time because I JUST said so at the start of the sentence/paragraph/grammatical travesty that I'm not going to change NOW but oh my God I think I'm actually ashamed of myself and so I'm going to stop once you've fully understood that I have NO TIME. *gasp* *gasp* Ahem. Sorry about that. Like I said, time crunch.

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 organization dumb luck. So, unwanted advice. Many people complain about this in reference to weddings and marriage or pregnancy and parenting, because apparently when you do those things, you paint a giant sign on your forehead that says, "I am no longer an adult or sentient being with working neurons and now require YOU to run my life from here on out." Or something. So I've heard.

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.

12 comments:

  1. I love this post! Such good points. Honest. Love it!

    If I had dollar for every time someone gave me unsolicited advice I'd be...well, you know. I, on the other hand, try very hard not to "advize" people unless they specifically ASK me what I think.

    Cuz I'm evolved like that. And GAWD, 13 freaking older than YOU! But even still, I'm not planning to give you ANY advice, young lady!

    :-)

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  2. Trust me, there are a lot of 35 year olds out there making bad life decisions...

    Way back when (you can tell I am older than 35 when I say that), it was customary for parents to raise their children to be, you know, adults (like they are legally) by eighteen. Now, it seems we just pay in the hopes that college will do it for them. And by we I of course mean people who are not me! Heh.

    Nice to see you posting more frequently.

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  3. As a fellow 20something, I think my most unwanted advice concerns choices that I "SHOULD HAVE MADE," but are obviously no longer possible. Like, if I had done Zthing 3 years ago, then Ything would be soo much easier now (never actually true, but very hard to make Advice Givers understand)

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  4. Unfortunately, my biggest advice givers are my parents. And unlike you, my parents often just Nag me. Get a job (done), now give us gas money (done), that wasn't enough gas money (urg), now get a car (working on it. these things take time), do you have enough gas money? (no, because you took it all). It gets frustrating.

    And I have to say that I'm guilty of advice-giving. I worked full time and part time while going to school full time, and the advice that I give to people is generally DON'T GO TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL RIGHT OFF THE BAT, GET YOUR GEN ED CREDITS AT A COMMUNITY COLLEGE BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE 60K IN DEBT LATER (EVEN THOUGH IN YOUR 18 YEAR OLD MIND 60K ISN'T THAT MUCH). What I would do to have the 2011 Alyssa in my life back in 2008. :/

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  5. HA! I liked the "young lady" thing--it made me laugh. :) And I'm totally cool with someone giving me advice when I ask (because I was the fool that ASKED), but advice apropos of nothing? Not cool. But I would totally take *your* advice!

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  6. Thanks, Rebecca! It feels really good to be back in the swing of things.

    And I completely agree with you--there are more baby-adults out there than ever before and college is not going to change that much. Might I suggest the military? ;)

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  7. OH. MY. WORD. This. Totatally this! Because even if Zthing *would* have made Ything easier, it's not like you can GO BACK AND CHANGE IT! Those pesky Advice Givers need to take a vacation or something.

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  8. Ha! I was totally the kid who went to private school and am in debt up to my eyebrows. In my case, I think it was worth it, but I don't think it always is for everybody. I would do it again, but it does make life more difficult on this side of college...

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  9. My mum totally can't accept that I don't want children, and she (and a number of other people) seem to think that marriage is something you can just..do. Like I can just go to the store and buy a husband/wife. I have been asked before why I'm not married (which is, by the way, a really strange question). When I answer with "I haven't found anyone worth marrying" that usually works, but what a value judgement that statement is. Like getting married is not only something I SHOULD be actively working toward (how do you do that anyway?), but that there is something wrong with me because I haven't done it. My mum has actually been a bit rude about me having kids (she's calmed down a little), but she basically kept pestering me and trying to give me reasons why I should, all of which really boiled down to -she- wanted me to have them. I hate being made to feel like what I want and need and think is good for me isn't even worth listening to.

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  10. Geez! I get this a lot from the ladies at church. They're nice about it and they mean well, but GAH! It's not like I'm *opposed* to marriage or meeting someone, it just hasn't happened yet (and if I could somehow make it happen, I WOULD HAVE DONE IT ALREADY!). And when they ask and then give me the Pity Face, it just makes it THAT MUCH harder to be single when I'd rather be with someone. I feel your pain!

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  11. Can I just say that I love you? And I hope you weren't talking about me and my "advice" which wasn't really advice but more of encouragement to do that thing that I did on Friday that you were going to do on Monday, which I really hope you did and maybe you've announced it on your blog or twitter and since I've been social media absent lately I don't know about it. But I'm dying to talk to you about it.

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  12. Cleats and Flip Flops10/24/11, 3:30 PM

    Thing that is not advice: I love you and I'm proud of you!

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