Friday, August 5, 2011

348) help me! i'm tired of getting unsolicited advice


the literary life 8/5/2011

So I've been going through some major changes in my life lately, and this means experiencing the emotional ups and downs that accompany such changes...feelings like uncertainty, excitement, trepidation, self-doubt, and confusion...there's this sense of vulnerability, too. And I've been more open about this with others as well, which is new for me. I'm generally the private sort. I try to keep the indecisiveness hidden. But lately, I'm expressing what's on my mind, this sense of internal conflictedness, with family members, friends, strangers, and acquaintances. I've been spilling it all. And it feels good to be authentic, you know. To let perfectionism slide.

Mostly, the experience of sharing more has been good. But there's also a negative side to it all, and that is this: many folks insist on giving me unsolicited advice. And while their intentions may be allegedly good, I mostly find it irritating.

Unsolicited advice can be welcome when someone saves you from jumping off a cliff or consuming a poisonous mushroom. However, in most cases it is annoying because it suggests that the person being given the advice is not capable of figuring things out on their own. The fact is, I value unsolicited advice less than I do advice I have sought out myself. And when unrequested advice is dished out, I find myself wondering if the speaker is pretentious or conceited. Many people assume that they're being helpful or honest by telling you how to run your life. I wonder at their audacity...I rarely find myself doing the same. I guess I find it sort of rude.

So this post is a way of venting about this cultural trend...and I'm wondering if certain types of people are more prone to getting unsolicited advice than others...maybe I am one of those people who seems to have the word, "Help me!" scribbled across the forehead. The fact is, I do appreciate the help of others when I need it or when I'm about to step on fire. I find it essential to my personal growth. But I'm ready to declare the truth of what I really feel when the advice is not solicited: please mind social boundaries and let me figure things out on my own...

Finally, this whole post on advice is making me wonder about the tradition of giving advice in a poem...this is also a delicate matter...to suggest without preaching...to encourage without being didactic...whether in person or on the page, i think it's about tone, tone tone...

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