Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Rules are simple: no one can tell you what to do, not even your dad or a cop. They can only advise you. Who has done the worst job of it in your life?
I’m terrible about unsolicited advice, so I’m usually the other end of this one. As for advice someone’s given me, I’ve got to go with something I was taught in college. Have everyone write down their feelings. I was in training to be a high school teacher, but a series of my education classes were “general” classes for teachers from preschool through high school. When you need something to apply to a six year old and an eighteen year old, you have to be pretty broad. When you have to be pretty broad, you end up saying a lot of really silly stuff. The moment the shine came off the apple for me was when a person looked me straight in the eye and told me that the way to handle a teenager that wouldn’t listen in class was to have them write down their feelings about class and to take away their recess.
The worst advice I have ever received was to be brashly honest in relationships. This just straight up does not work and causes so much stress and pain on both ends that it kinda is a self-sabotaging mindset to be in. I am not saying I am a consistent liar or anything now, but I have grown to appreciate the little lies and the withholding of information to keep the peace. There are times where lying IS actually the best option, not just Eagle Scout levels of honesty. That being the case I am regularly told I am still too honest, but I have figured out when that extra push is too much and to just keep it to myself.
I am fortunate enough to have trouble remembering advice that has landed me in a laughably compromising position. People who feel qualified to give it out in my life generally give it soundly, and most problems arise from me not following it. That being said, one general piece of “advice” that really annoys me is “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.” There is no, zero, nada physiological reason the order in which you ingest poison will make you feel worse or better. It’s like having a rhyme that starts “strychnine before arsenic…” Alcohol is a poison. You feel bad because you drank poison. If you drink so much you find yourself muttering useless, rhyming rules about it, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
A youth pastor once told me that it is a wife’s marital duty to sexually submit to her husband whenever her husband asks for it. He said that since two people become “one spirit and one flesh” when they are married, and since someone can’t rape themselves, then a man can’t be said to rape his wife.
“Write what you know”–an often espoused platitude in creative writing programs. If people only wrote what they knew, then science fiction and fantasy, as genres, wouldn’t exist. If people only wrote what they knew, there would be only autobiography, which (unfortunately) so much of “today’s” writing is inherently. With the rise of the personal essay and proliferation of creative writing programs, I heard this advice often from writers at all levels, and I wanted to ask them, “Do you ever write outside of yourself?” So yeah, “write what you know” is horrible advice. All you writers out there–do whatever the hell you want.