Last week I learned from a four-year-old that all babies are born without kneecaps. Also, all images are from the @lubadalu Instagram account. Please take a look because her drawings are fantastic pieces of creative honesty.
Doing what you want in the age when everyone has an opinion and one that they want you to follow—it’s near to impossible.
I’m pretty sure that people have had opinions for as long as we have been around and we’ve probably had advice for just as long. But where do you draw the line between advice and opinion? And how do you know when to take your friends’ advice and when to do you and not listen?
I can easily count the number of times I should have listened to the advice of my friends and family especially when it comes to relationships. For example, had I listened to the advice of my Mom and friends to dump my high school boyfriend instead of waiting three years, I would have saved myself a few monumental meltdowns and the destruction of my self-worth and confidence. But at the time I was 17/18/19/20 years old and I thought that their advice was swayed heavily by their opinions. So I didn’t listen. I did what I wanted to do at the time and stayed in the relationship and then when it ended I tried to make it work (you know that whole on and off again thing that young couples and a high number of celebrities do). Finally one morning I woke up and made the decision on my own to end the relationship and my Mom’s response was, “I’ve been trying to tell you all of this for three years.” Basically, her version of I told you so.
What I learned though is that you can offer a metric ton (figuratively of course as words don’t have physical mass unless you can manage to write out all your advice on a metric ton of paper which would take a long time so kudos to you for perseverance), but the person you’re giving it to will most likely listen but not abide. When it comes to making decisions that impact our own personal happiness, not the happiness that our friends and family think we need, we have to make those decisions when we’re ready. Not when our friends and family think we are.
And this lesson is hard, especially for me. Take for example a recent event. As I’m writing this I am currently on vacation time in New York, sitting in my ex-boyfriend’s apartment downtown. After a month of talking to each other again, I decided that what would make me happy was to spend my money and vacation time from work to fly to New York and see him. My close friends, however, do not think that that is what would make me happy and their advice was to quote, “Get off the plane right now!” But I didn’t listen. One gave me the sage advice that I am an adult and capable of making my own decisions but that I should thoroughly understand what I’m getting into but ultimately do what makes me happy. The other in summary said not to do it because she cares about me and doesn’t want the negativity that was in the relationship before to come back into my life. I wanted to keep the whole trip on the DL (down-low) because I knew that people would give me, and him, their opinions of what they think we should do and not advice for how they think we can be happy together.
And opinions about your personal relationships or yourself can weigh heavily on you.
As of writing this, my Mom doesn’t know because I knew that her advice would be heavily swayed by her opinions of him and not determined by what she thinks would make me ultimately happy.
And I am happy and I didn’t listen to the advice of my friends and instead did what I wanted to do. While washing dishes before leaving, my roommate’s boyfriend said something wise to me:
Everyone in your life will have an opinion and they’re entitled to their opinions and what they think you should do, but ultimately it’s not their life or their relationship. While they may want the best for you, they aren’t in the relationship or living your life so chances are they won’t really know what is the best for you or what will make you happy. You have to do what makes you happy and if that’s going to New York to see him, then that’s what you should do.
And in my case, my happiness required splitting the cost of a plane ticket, finally using my vacation time I’ve saved up at work, and visiting someone who does make me very happy deep down.
So I want to ask you—how do you separate advice from opinion? Where do you draw the line at not listening to either? And what makes you ultimately happy?
For me, it’s the person I woke up next to and made coffee for all weekend.
In the end, though, you should hear the advice given to you, ignore the opinions that are swayed by heavy bias, and make sure that you do you boo.
My advice is, whatever decision or action or person makes you happiest, that’s the right choice because this is your life to live, not someone else’s.