Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Questionable Advice

Many many moons ago, I started doing the 50 Questions to Free Your Mind, which I had seen on many other blogs. Then I stopped. I stopped freeing my mind, I stopped blogging, I actually stopped running and going to the gym for a while! But that's a story for another day.

Today, the story is actually a question:

If you could offer a newborn one piece of advice, what would it be?

In my experience, any advice you give a newborn baby is a waste, because that baby will never remember anything you say. You'd be much better waiting until the baby is at least 5 or so. Once, at Baby Gap, I saw a onesie that relayed pretty much this same thought. It said "I'm not going to remember any of this". Really funny, and really true. Why would anyone wax philosophical to a 7 pound person wearing diapers? The most you are going to get in return is a gurgle or a pant-load of poo.

However, let's just for arguments sake, imagine that the question asked about giving advice to a person who could actually understand, appreciate, and even follow said advice. Exactly what advice would I give?

I seriously don't think advice is a one size fits all kind of thing. Advice that I may give to one person would be completely wrong for another. For instance, I recently told my 14 year old niece that she should go a little bit easier on herself. I told her that she should do the best the can in a reasonable amount of time and not run herself into the ground trying to get everything perfect. I told her that it's okay to let homework slide every now and then and that grades aren't everything. I told her that having a well rounded life is just as important as grades or a good job.

I would never give that advice to my best friend's nephew. On the contrary, we have both sat him down and told him that he spends a little (a lot) too much time trying to be "well rounded". We have both told him that he needs to concentrate more on studying, getting good grades, and working. He, unlike my niece, is selling himself too short and not holding himself to high enough standards. He needs to work harder.

I told my brother that he needs to go along with everything his wife wants on their wedding day and that he doesn't really have a say. "Aren't we supposed to be equal partners?" he asked. "No, that is the MARRIAGE. We are talking about the WEDDING; completely different. On your wedding day, you are essentially and accessory."  For him, that was excellent advice. He started calling HIMSELF an accessory!

There are some people who, upon receiving that advice, would want to throw themselves off a cliff.

One size does not fit all. Well, except maybe for this little nugget: several years ago, at a bridal shower, we were all given index cards upon which we were supposed to write advice on "how to make a marriage work" for the bride to be. Having never been married myself, I felt totally unqualified to give any such advice. Yet there were lots of people there who were quite happily doling out pithy little points like "never go to bed angry" or "always kiss each other before leaving the house".  

Years later, I've still never been married. But unlike a good percentage of the advice givers from that particular bridal shower, I've never been divorced, either. And now I'm thinking that maybe my advice was pretty good, after all:

"Never take advice on how to live your life from an index card"

Or a blog post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One word: plastics.

(Although, seriously, I think that "never go to bed angry" is pretty decent advice that can be applied to all human relationships/interactions. Letting things fester and go unsaid often proves to lead to disaster!)