October 21, 2007
Just because I ask for advice, it doesn't mean I'm going to take it. But people get so offended. They take it so personally. It's as if there's an unspoken obligation that because they put in the time and went to the trouble, it feels like a rejection. Went to the trouble of what? Talking?
Asking for advice is one thing, being given advice, unsolicited, is another. Usually it's not what I want to hear. Which is probably why I never follow through. When I ask for advice, generally, I'm interested in having someone confirm that whatever I'm about to do or say isn't a disaster. But when I'm given advice without asking, most of the time it's completely impractical. For instance, a few weeks ago, I was boarding a plane and over the phone I told my friend Heather I was worried about money. "Don't go to London." She said. "It's too expensive. You should stay in New York and write a screenplay."
I was taking my seat as she said this. But according to her I should ask for my bags to be removed from cargo, forfeit the fare and return to Manhattan. If she was thinking properly she'd realize I can worry about my future anywhere. Also, when did writing a screenplay become the solution to anything?
She let out an exasperated sigh. "Just trying to help."
People - men in particular - need to have a solution. If there's a problem, it has to be solved. What's wrong with having a problem and talking about it until you get tired. Sooner or later you give up and move on. Or you obsess about it so much you've unknowingly figured out what to do. But whenever I've tried to discuss a problem with a man he'll interrupt. "Here's what I think..." before I've even finished explaining. Then if I don't take his advice, suddenly I'm being stubborn.
Relationship advice is the trickiest. This is when close friendships are put to the test. But if I listened every time someone told me "stay away from that guy"? I'd still be a virgin.
With relationships, everyone has an opinion. Call, don't call, wait, don't wait - what does it all add up to? If it's doomed, it's doomed. I think it's a bad idea to give relationship advice. If a friend asks you for help and what you say works out, that will become your new full time job. Only you don't get paid. Expect your co-dependant friend to rely on you 24/7.
Of course if you've given advice that didn't work out, expect to be blamed for ruining her life.
My one area of expertise is misery. If someone has been rejected they call me for advice. I like to recommend: don't feel bad for feeling bad. This gives them permission to stay as depressed for as long as they like. Who wouldn't want that?
No one remembers advice anyway. I can't remember a single thing anyone's ever told me other than a Japanese man who advised not to eat sushi on Sunday.
The worst advice has to be "Cheer Up." People tell me this all the time and there really is no response. Especially since they say it on days when I actually feel I'm making an effort to be positive