The other day I was going to lunch and a colleague asked me what I was going to eat. I told her that I was gonna use my hour to get a manicure. She said in a high condescending voice with a fake smile on her face, “ Oh how nice! I hope that when you have kids that you still find time to take care of yourself.” Oh please. You don’t hope nothing nice for me, was my first thought. “Haha, I hope so too”, was what I said.
I am familiar with this sort of interaction. You probably are too. Unsolicited advice. I got a lot of it when I was young, and I still get it now.
When I was young, I was the advice rejector. I was determined to live my life my way. After all, all the other people before me got to live their lives and make their own mistakes.
On a daily basis, the unsolicited advice comes from everywhere. People are happy and willing to share their opinions about almost anything.
Oh is that iced water? You know they say it’s not good for you to drink iced water, you should drink it room temperature.
Who is this they and why do they care about the temperature of my water?
You should have your kids young. This way you can have a tighter bond, because you will be young enough to relate.
I don’t have kids yet, and but I am ageless. Is that ok?
So much of the unsolicited advice I’ve received has to do with age. People like to try and tell you what you should stop doing by what age.
There are even blog posts and magazine articles about what you should be able to cook by a certain age. What you should stop wearing by what age.
We do it to ourselves too. Maybe as a child you speculated with your friends or family about by what age you would have or do certain things. We celebrate our milestone birthdays.
As a society, we often agree on when people should have certain things. Maybe this is because a human life is only so long and we are all afraid. Afraid that we are not doing enough. Afraid that we are not living up to our potential. It could also be that we are just conditioned from childhood to focus on our age in relationship to our development.
I tried hard not to, but I internalized these ideas and messages about where I should be somehow. And as I left my twenties and entered my thirties, I began to feel disappointed.
Now that I’ve made it to my late thirties, I realize that it’s ok to not know, its ok to have your own schedule or time frame. But, also since I am in my late thirties I find that I have so much advice for the younger me.
My 20’s were fun, I loved being an adult I was thrilled about living my life the way I wanted to.
But I have always been reflective and I would sometimes worry and write in my journal things like, what’s going to happen to me, how am I going to sustain the type of lifestyle I want.
If I could send my 20-year-old self an email, I’d want to tell her so much. But I’ve narrowed it down to this one thing.
I would tell her that being self guided is ok, and that she doesn’t have to live by a definition of success that is not her own.
No one knows no one knows what’s going to happen beyond the current moment, and we are all trying to figure out things in life. If we live long enough we will regret chances we don’t take and choices we make sometimes.
I was not afraid of the same things as the people giving me advice.
The thing about unsolicited advice is that it is almost always based on the fears or desires of the advice giver. We will all have moments when we feel like we don’t know up from down. But, we still know ourselves better than anyone else.