In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take It From Me.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?
I’m not a big fan of advice – either giving or receiving it. I like to figure things out for myself, making mistakes along the way. I’ve found this is how I learn best. My Mum is the exact opposite – she loves to give me advice, be it from how to bake a cake to how to deal with a difficult work situation. The advice is not sought out however I have learnt over the years to listen to it because even though Mum knows I’m independent, she is still my Mum and simply wants to help.
My family have put up with me insisting that I want to do things without any help all my life and I know they are proud that I can take care of herself. But despite this the advice still comes. Some of it is not particularly useful (I don’t want to use the word ‘bad’ but…) – like the time when I was about 12 and was going to a friends party in a brand new dress. I wanted to wear pretty shoes but despite my better judgement Mum convinced me that sneakers were the way to go and that all my friends would be wearing them – they weren’t! I spent the entire evening feeling as though I stood out like a sore thumb.
Some of the advice however is actually pretty good. Probably the two best pieces of advice I’ve received that I have actually passed on (generally under duress because like I said I don’t like giving advice) are:
- Always wear nice underwear as you never know if you might get hit by a bus (or be involved in some other less-specific accident). Now on the face of it this seems like pretty grim advice, what with the threat of potential vehicular injury and all, but I actually really like this one. I’m a fan of this titbit because a) you wouldn’t wear grotty underwear in front of someone who you actually wanted to see you in it so why would you potentially run the risk of a stranger seeing it?, and b) because if you get hit by a bus you have plenty of other things to worry about other than whether your bra and pants match. For the record I follow this piece of advice religiously.
- People aren’t thinking about you, they’re thinking about themselves. (Despite it being more of a statement I am counting this as advice). As a born worrier who is prone to over-thinking things I spent most of my teenage years in a perpetual state of paranoia worrying that people were critiquing me and generally thinking bad things about me (I was bullied a bit at school which laid the foundations for these worries). Someone could glance in my direction and I would think they were secretly laughing at the way I looked etc. It took quite some time (longer than I’m proud of) to realise that people have plenty of their own problems to worry about – I was simply projecting my own criticisms about myself on to them.
Whilst I would love to say that I follow the second piece of advice all the time the truth is that I don’t. I still get a little self-conscious if someone gives me a funny look, wondering if I have spinach in my teeth or have grown an extra eye, but then I ask myself the question “does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?” More often than not the answer to that question is “no”.