Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Problem With Advice

Advice, especially when actively sought after, can be extremely helpful. But when people give you advice, they are missing one crucial thing. They are not you.

Sometimes a thing may have a practical answer, but it is in your best interest to reject it anyway. Not always. Not even necessarily most of the time. But when it comes to certain things about yourself (that are not harmful), sometimes you know best.

For example:

When I was younger, I was in the middle of reading a certain YA book and decided to write to the author. I confided in her various difficulties I was having with my amateur writing abilities. Her response to me: Maybe you shouldn't be a writer.

I can't even begin to describe the pang those few words gave me. The sinking feeling that what I wanted to do most - even at that young age - was being snatched from my grasp all because I mustered the courage to ask for advice. And then, in anger, I decided this author knew nothing about me, that she was a horrible person for discouraging a young kid, and I boycotted her books. I marched straight to the library and returned the one I was in the middle of - and I have never read a single book by her since.

It's always good to listen to advice. You never know when someone's going to say something useful. But it's even more important to remember that you know yourself best, that advice comes with a choice, it's just an option, not something binding that you must follow.

Even more - it's crucial not to feel discouraged just because someone else thinks you're not good enough. What does that person know?

Sometimes you just have to listen to yourself.


corner point said...

*excellent* point.

It's wise to listen to advice, but foolish to always take it.

I've heard from those wiser than me that it's best to ask for advice from a few people you trust. That way, you can hear multiple ideas and then formulate your own decision based both on the wise experience and on your own personality and preferences.

corner point said...

*correction, for the English majors out there

I've heard from those wiser than myself

That better?


G said...

The Problem With that people give it more than they take.

Erachet said...

G - Even if your comment was not meant that way...criticism noted.

Ezzie said...

Somehow I don't think that was a criticism, just a rather apropos comment.

G said...

Ctiticism???from moi???...well!

-for real, totally not - just a comment