Advice Squared

Alright, I’ve finally piled up enough internal disgust with self-help articles online to finally write my own rebuttal of their bullshit. I don’t troll those blogs and forums too often, so this has been brewing for a while.

Not Everyone Lives in City _________

Yup, it’s true. I can’t even begin to say how many things I read where they are making some sense for a while and then the author says they’re living in New York, or LA, or any one of the dozen or so generic cities where we’re all supposed to dream of one day living. Here’s a helpful tip: Not everyone lives in New York. Has that sunk in? Here’s another tip: Not everyone wants to. There are countless people out there living in the suburbs, small cities/towns and even rural areas. A lot of them are really happy where they are and don’t find the concept of a city particularly appealing for any number of reasons. I’m one of those people. Even when I sometimes feel down about where I am, I take a trip to Boston or something. A few days is all it takes to refill my coffers of dislike. Thing is, all those people who don’t live or want to live in major cities are pretty much the same as the people that do. They want the same things. They have the same desires and ambitions. And they might be just as confused about life as someone in NYC. So when they go around and read this advice about living in some city where a particular vein of opportunity abounds, what are they to do? Moving to the city may not be desirable, or even an option. They still deserve thoughtful answers that apply to anyone, no matter where they are.

It’ll Happen if You Stop Thinking About It

Specifically finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. I like this one, because I see it a lot, and I think there are a couple different things that cause it to show up. Right off the bat, I’m going to say that this advice is slightly more likely to come from the female sex. Why? Well, at least in the places I’ve lived, women can get away with being a lot more passive when it comes to initiating relationships. That’s absolutely not to say that all women are passive about it, or that they should be (ladies, don’t be passive), but if one chooses to be, I don’t personally think it’s going to significantly reduce the number of men she’s able to meet/date/whatever. Bottom line, anyone, regardless of gender is going to have more success if they’re active about it. I just think the impact of not being active will be less for women. Now, when I say active, I definitely don’t mean “prowling” or trolling the bars and clubs. I mean active in the sense that you’re focused on it. Looking for opportunities. Aware of your surroundings on a daily basis. Making opportunities for yourself. You’re actively participating in the process, not just sitting at home waiting for the UPS driver to deliver someone to you.

I’m not entirely sure about my other conjecture on this one, but I suspect 9 out of 10 people (regardless of gender) who make this assertion are either currently in a relationship, or have been in the past. Now, for someone else in that position, (in a relationship in the past), I’ll concede that this advice might be fairly applicable to them. It’s possible they are just trying too hard at the moment, and coming off as clingy or desperate, and easing back a little bit might be helpful. Again, still taking an active, participatory role. Now, for someone who’s never been in a relationship, this advice is about as useful as a Hep C vaccine at a monastery. In fact, I personally find it a bit trite, effortless, and kind of insulting. Not focusing on it, or thinking about it or doing anything about it is BS for those people (myself included). It worked out great for me when it wasn’t even so much as a blip on my radar screen almost into college. I’m talking I wasn’t even aware it was something I could do. I guess I was dropped too many times as a child, and didn’t get the right hormones, or whatever. The point is, this advice is really lame at best, and downright hurtful at worst.

It’s OK, You’re Only ___________

22, 25, 16, 31…the truth is, it doesn’t matter. It hurts at the age you’re at right now, and that’s what matters. Again, I feel like this advice almost always comes from someone in a relationship currently, or part of one previously. I’ve rarely seen this advice come from someone who’s older and currently in a relationship or had their first relationship at an older age. I’ll concede that those people carry a bit more right to make this argument. And I’ll concede that there are limits especially to the younger end of the scale. I know at 13 or 14, you might be really bummed about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you know what, ALL 13-14 year olds are bummed about stuff. It’s called growing up and if it wasn’t this, it’d be that your mom doesn’t like you playing COD for 6 hours every day even though you’re going to be a professional gamer some day. I think the acceptability of this argument decays exponentially with age. And if I had to put a number on the half life, I’d say early twenties, like 21-23. After that, it’s MAJOR bullshit. Look, I’m 25 right now. Never had a girlfriend, never done anything. There’s nothing more to really say about it. You could’ve told me at 22, or 23, or 24 that “it’s ok, you’re only __, things will change.” Sure, they might, they might not, and the world might explode. My point is, there comes a time when you can’t keep saying this. And the people, like me, who are going through it right now, hurt. We don’t want to hear that “we’re young” and things “might magically get better tomorrow”. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t lie to yourself. If you feel like something sucks, then just say that it sucks. It’s 100% ok for you to feel that way. Don’t try to dress up a pig and say “well, I’m only 25”. If you’re unhappy right now, do something about it. That’s the right thing to say.

I hope someone might find all this useful. I’m just so tired of seeing the same rehashed crap thrown around. It doesn’t work, it’s not effective, and it’s not helpful. You have every right to say “wtf does he know?” and just dismiss all that I’ve written, that’s fine. I just had to make my voice heard in the melee.