I love good advice, don’t get me wrong, I truly do. I’ve written advice articles about graduate school, the importance of timing, and even things I’ve learned from my younger sister. There are entire books devoted to giving advice to people in their twenties! We’re reading Adulting now as a GenTwenty community (and I encourage you to join us)! However… some advice we receive is rotten.
This rotten advice is laced with clichés and overwrought promises of a sunnier tomorrow. This advice is normally given by doting and well-intended older adults in our lives, be they friends or family members. This terrible, horrible, no good, very bad advice seems to be everywhere. Just look to any kitschy, Pinterest-ed sign to find it. Actually, don’t do that. I don’t want to put you through that pain, dear reader. Instead, I’ll pick out some of the worst advice out there and help us through to the other side.
One of the things I hear most often is don’t compromise! I mostly hear this related to romantic interests, but I’ve also heard it in professional contexts as well. We’re told, if you are looking for a partner, make a giant list of all of the things they have to provide right off the bat. If it’s job hunting that you’re doing, better make sure that your starting salary is right where you want it to be, no questions asked. I think we should all hold high expectations of ourselves and others, but think those expectations should be reasonable. We should compromise, and often!
Now there are certainly things you don’t want to compromise, like your health, safety, or morals. However, we all need to make sure we’re okay accounting for human error in every aspect of our lives. We are not perfect and no situation is either. It is unfair to others, and ourselves, to expect otherwise. If we do, we’re going to be in for a lot of hurt and disappointment. Instead of never compromising find a few things to stick to your guns about. Is the company you’re working for a safe and productive environment aside from their policy regarding the copy machine? Don’t throw a fit about it! Does that new person in your life have terrible taste in music? Don’t kick them to the curb! By compromising here and there on the little things, we can make sure that it’s the big things that really matter.
Sometimes though, we can’t reach a compromise and fights or disagreements break out. This can happen between any two people and it’s always a little uncomfortable. You might hear some say “Don’t worry about it, the past is in the past” and while that might be true for some things, it doesn’t necessarily apply to every setting. It’s very helpful to keep the past in mind, especially when dealing with people with whom you’ve had a tumultuous relationship. By paying attention to what has happened in the past, you can better prepare yourself to avoid similar situations in the future. Did you and a close friend get into a fight because of some poor communication via text messaging? Consider calling them up next time to discuss a delicate matter in a more personal setting.
This can also lead to you discounting someone’s past experiences. While something may have not been a big deal to you, it could have significantly impacted someone else’s world. A disagreement at work over a stylistic choice might not matter to you, but to your coworker who was told their work was subpar, it might mean a lot. The test you failed could have bumped you down a mark or two on a test, but destroyed your classmates GPA. Just remember to learn from you past. Don’t hold grudges by any means, but never assume past events don’t influence current ones.
The last piece of truly dreadful advice I can think of is “Never change!” Recently, when working with a youth group, the leader and I were laughing about how awkward we were in middle school and high school. Our students didn’t believe it… or they did and were just being polite by playing naïve. Regardless, we both agreed that asking people to never change is a dreadful piece of advice. While I’m sure we’ve all written this in a yearbook or two, I shudder to think that I ever told another person that. We can’t be stagnant and set in our ways! What a terrible (and potentially dramatic) life to lead.
Changing is what people do best. We grow and are shaped by our environments constantly. Now, I don’t mean to say that you become ‘fake’ or ‘inauthentic’ over time. I am suggesting that every life experience can impact you and leave you with a new bit of information about yourself. Without change, we could never grow to do the things we are all capable of. The saying that change is always constant might be cliché, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. While you will change, you should also expect others to change as well. Don’t fight the inevitable, embrace it.
So, dear readers, this is the advice that I’m suggesting we ignore. How does this sit with all of you? Any terrible advice that you think we should ignore instead of these three tidbits?