On Other People’s Advice

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Being a human being is, like, super difficult. Sometimes there are no seemingly /right/ moves, and lines you learnt from films, which were meant to be winning, lead-drop and conversation stop. Problem pages are retro and all you post-millennial kids won’t even know what that is but, basically, any answer one person gives claiming expertise, is almost certainly wrong, if it’s on something subjective like love or sex or friends or just how to make a decision. (Although I’d really like to learn how to comprehensively make a decision: why don’t they teach that in school?)

And I’ve read self-help books. I’ve clutched that shit like it’s Bible-accurate (erm…) and stuck to it even if my heart wanted the opposite. I felt misguided pride at listening to advice and not being the dumb bitch the book said I’d be if I’d given a second chance that time I kinda, sorta, wanted to give a second chance. Even though on TV they always, always give the second chance (Hello Jordan Catalano).

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And that’s a problem, isn’t it? If advice implies you’re a thick bitch, fucking stupid, to do the opposite of what’s instructed? Even if it’s seriously what you want.

I read a lot of internet articles and forums and threads, to see what’s said, like maybe I could piece together the perfect instructions from various locations. But I usually end up more confused, or with labels I didn’t know existed, and never with the answer I set out to get. Because I’m pretty sure that, even if it’s deeply buried, we know what we want to find when we seek advice. We hope there’s justification for what it is that we’ve done, or that maybe we’re not alone, and that there’s a way forward, and a template to help us navigate it. Y’know, the way we keep giving Ben Affleck chances to be a human again, against our collective better judgement.

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I guess it’s sort of sadly that this year I’ve learnt even people I thought were close, didn’t always have my best interests at heart. They might not want to fuck me over intentionally, but some people’s advice giving is more to do with justifying decisions they’ve made in their own lives than helping you with yours. By convincing you to make the choices they have, it validates their life and decision-making. And I choose to believe that none of the terrible advice I received this year was vindictive, that is was always the best answer the person had at the time, according to the compass they use to navigate the scattered territory of their own life. But the judgement weighed heavy. Especially when all I wanted was a person to listen.

Morality’s also at play, and it’s like some people never saw an episode of an American TV show (read Felicity, Scandal, Nashville, etc.), and still think there’s such thing as a concrete right and concrete wrongs. Like, for reals. But there isn’t, not in the polarising, religious, youth group, patronising commandments sense, anyway. Life is super fucking complicated. And this needs to be taken into account. 

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If someone asks your advice, tells you something that happened, something they did, something they’re thinking, listen to them. And find out the context, because context is bloody important. If someone’s asking at all, they’re probably not after a lecture, but an opinion, someone to take them seriously without judgement, who won’t tell them they’re going to hell or, to a lesser degree, that their actions are bad and they’re not a good person anymore. I mean, maybe they are a shitty person. Especially if they’re friends with you. But stock advice has to stop. We’ve got to be kinder to the people we like and love, and tailor our responses to that.

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At times, other people’s advice bites. I just really want you to rely on your own head and your own heart and your own gut. Which is totally easier said than done. But if you could even 10% not give a shit what other people think, you’d be so much happier. Immeasurably so. You’re probably not a bad person, anyway. Life is just hard. Do what makes you happy. And fuck anyone who makes you feel anything less than Jennifer Aniston: a total fucking goddess, yo!

On Self-Doubt

This isn’t one of those inspirational articles filled with quotes/memes trying to convince you life’s a totally full glass, overflowing with vaguely expensive Chardonnay (though I might subject you to some quotes/memes, as they’re religion at this point).

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Nothing I can say will change your shitty life anymore than hearing Reese Witherspoon complain about how difficult hers is will make you feel human. Maybe that’s unfair. I did really like that video of her getting a DUI, more than her Oscar-winning material, probably.

Trouble is, if someone that petite, smart, witty and talented is capable of creating insurmountable problems, then what chance do regular people have? And I count myself amongst the regular-ist of the regular; some days my problems are top shelf cereal packets, and the tallest of the tall can’t reach them let alone open and pour the contents into a clean bowl.

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I don’t care how kick-ass you are, even Barney Stinson has bad days, and self-doubt’s bubonic plague-like: quick to kill, yo.

But doubt is not your fault. It’s inherent, interlaced, you’re born with it, pre-disposed to being disappointed by everything, even things you shouldn’t feel that way about. For one, The Game of Life fucking lied: I can’t even drive, let alone collect up family members, and I’m in my thirties, so that makes me a loser by game playing standards, by Kirstie Allsopp standards, according to any number of new campaigns telling me my self-worth is inextricably attached to my child-bearing ability and how brilliantly I sustain relationships (clue: not very).

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I’m not saying every day’s bad. It’s not. Or parts of it are, but I try not to spread negativity like Nutella. My closest people will tell the truth, which is that I moan like a motherfucker. I try to complain productively, but for all the million times I don’t, I’m sorry. I’m a bin dweller, but I know life’s got the potential to be sparkly, occasionally, so I’m not going to self-bury just yet.

One of the best pieces of advice I got this year was that feelings are never ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ or whatever word you attach to your own if, like me, you’ve total lost trust in yourself and no longer have the ability to tell people to go fuck themselves when they disrespect you (and I love to swear, so). If you feel a certain way, it’s actually okay to own that, embrace it, even if it seems irrational or strange, unlikely or questionable. Spend some time with it. Get to know it and test its legitimacy. But don’t outright downplay or label it as crazy, just because it’s not the way you’re ‘meant to’ feel or something. According to other people or some inbuilt sense of duty you’ve acquired or were instilled with.

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Everyone has bad days. And that’s totally fine. It’s normal. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need any day is some fucker telling me to cheer up or smile. Covering up or pretending only does you a disservice, and you don’t need to apologise for making other people uncomfortable. That’s their effing problem. And if you’re a mess, or you make a mess, or you do what you want to do and it doesn’t turn out the perfect way the movies said it would, who cares? All you can do is your best at any one time. So don’t be so hard on yourself, have another Mars bar and block any hater that tells you how to live your life. The only person allowed to fuck with your choices is you. So do it as beautifully and elegantly as possible. We all know what haters gonna do, amirite? (Yeah, hate. In case you missed the memo).

Ending the essay in the only way I know how, like a total cunt, so as Fiona Apple says: “I have only one thing to do and that’s to be the wave that I am and then sink back into the ocean.” Go big or go home. ❤ xoxo

Bad Blood

It’s a game. Like in Saw, or Scream, it’s a game. And games are fun so enjoy it. Why aren’t you enjoying?

I’m winning. Except there aren’t exactly winners but if we’re tracking I’m absolutely ahead. I guess.

You should be proud. My attention’s scattered, not been this focused since 1999. Got my first boyfriend. Lasted, like, less than a week. Christian boys get confused by god messages and prick tease bible study best friends who call cry when landscapes change.

You know my game play. I know you’ve seen it. I don’t play to win, not since 2006, the final Christmas I monopoly stole from the bank.

Sabotage is much more fun. Not got the tactical skill to outright beat 8 players. I just want all my turns to end. But you, you’re playing to win, like there’s a prize, an outsmarting skill set.

But there’s an empty box, babe, with a charity sticker stuck to it and a bunch of scattered pieces and comradeship like chivalry is dead and I don’t even miss it.

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