Monday, February 9, 2015

Unsolicited advice

I don't know what it is about my life in particular, but people have always felt especially compelled to give me advice on a myriad of topics. I'm also one of those people who, when out in public, gets approached by the most random people, who then proceed to tell me their entire life story. And then, ironically, a lot of people come to me for advice, so they can't think I'm entirely dim...right? These things don't seem to happen to most of my friends on so large a scale, and they certainly don't add up in my mind. So, I'm just incredibly perplexed and always have been.

The life stories thing is more entertaining to me than anything else, but I find the unsolicited advice to be tiresome and draining more often than not, plus it draws unwanted attention to me. I'm a true introvert and like to hide behind a curtain in my life without people seeing my every move (Yeah, I know that probably sounds weird out loud, but it's true. Don't notice me, people!) And even people who know me and know how often I post on FB are probably reading this thinking, "What? You post all the time. You post everything that happens in your life." Wrong. I'm a really busy and active person, so much so that it makes my head spin and causes me to live out my hectic life on detailed post-it note lists, and I really only post like 1% of my thoughts and feelings and life happenings, believe it or not.

I feel like I am very clear in when I am asking for advice and when I am definitely not, so I am often left with swirling questions. Do people think I'm stupid? Do I appear to lack common sense or the ability to think for myself? Do I come off as dependent--the direct opposite of the independent person I actually am? Do people want to feel like they have a say in my choices and be stakeholders in my life? Is my life really all that outwardly interesting (because it certainly doesn't seem like it to me)? Do people even care about what they're pushing advice on, or do they just like to hear themselves talk? Even if I take someone's advice or if I don't, why does it matter/pertain to them?

Like I said, I really don't get it. I know people care--I get that part--and I certainly don't mean to sound snobby or rude or pretentious. I just truly don't understand why I'm the target of so much more advice than your average Joe. And, especially since becoming a single mom, I've had to fight off even more advice than usual. It's not that I don't love the people who are "helping" me--I do, and I have nothing personal against anyone who offers me advice, but rather a general feeling of disdain about it all.

The point is, though, that I want to figure things out for myself. I enjoy a challenge and a learning opportunity and the ability to learn from potential mistakes. I don't have a fear of falling or failing in most things (postgraduate education is an exception because I have been there, and I have failed) because I'm very in tune with my resilience. Even if someone tells me of their failure with an exact decision that I'm making in an exact scenario I'm in, it's absolutely meaningless to me until I experience it for myself. Example: people's movie recommendations. If someone tells me a movie is terrible, and I shouldn't see it, I 100% disregard their sentiments--on purpose, as well as an innate response within myself. I totally ignore it. If I want to see a movie, I go see it, regardless of what someone else thought of it. Even if that opinion comes from my most trusted circle. Why? I have to experience it for myself.

Maybe I'm just so independent that I'm over-sensitive to the whole topic of unsolicited advice and feel boxed in and defensive and like I need to stick up for myself, but I find it very hard to bite my tongue at times. Especially those times when my absolutely harmless Facebook posts turn into a gigantic controversy of people flat out telling me what to do, as if I'm asking for their permission. I find myself thinking, "HELLO?!?! You do not own me or my decisions! Being 26 has it's benefits--it means I'm an adult who can make sound decisions for my own life. I am not a child, nor do I act like one. In fact, I have one...for whom I have been making important, foundational decisions for 2.5 years now! Treat me as such. Hush. Leave me alone. Get off my back. Butt out. Silence!"

Yeah. Responding to unwanted advice is one of my biggest challenges as a Christian--right up there with patience, a virtue with which I was not blessed. I truly struggle with it. Huge personality flaw of which I am quite aware. I have always walked the line of...
 "I shouldn't say something. I really should just swallow it and not respond. It will eat me alive, but I must refrain from a rebuttal."
"I'm not being forthright with people or honest with myself if I don't say something. People will never learn the type of communication I value most if I don't speak up for myself. I will continue to be misunderstood and walked on. I must speak up."
Maybe it's wrong of me (I feel like it probably is because of the small twinge of guilt I feel), but this is where I stand right here, right now: if you don't know by now that I don't appreciate unsolicited advice, it is my job to tell you--not to be mean, but so you can learn that about me and respect me as a person for who I truly am. By combating it, I am being true to myself and my needs and removing the flurry of wanting-to-scream thoughts that overcrowd my mind when I'm being inundated with unwanted opinions. I try, and will continue to try, to be kind in expressing that I don't want any advice on whatever topic is the Kelsey controversy of the day; however, it's important to me to feel like I am being heard loud and clear to prevent future occurrences.

I guess what it boils down to is honesty. Honesty is the one human capability that I value first and foremost above all else in myself and in other people. By speaking out against the arrows of advice people send soaring my way Katniss-Everdeen-style on a daily basis, I am projecting honesty. Perhaps I just need to continue my journey on the path of Balance to find that happy place where I'm not also projecting angry-bear-who-just-awoke-from-hibernation / #LEAVEMEALONE!

#sorrynotsorry? #imnotperfect #workinprogress