I’m asking. Do I? Do I really look like someone who needs advice? I must because I seem to get a disproportionate amount of free advice from people.
Maybe it is because I appear younger than I am. Or at least I used to. I was a late bloomer who, for years, looked younger than my years and had very little credibility with people. I have a voice that sounds like a little kid so was often treated like one. Even by people younger than me who would offer free advice as if I were a younger sibling or some other less mature person.
Recently I got sun protection advice from someone who, up until a few years ago, would spend infinite hours laying in the sun on her deck and would advise her daughter to go get tanned because she looked pale. Yet here I am, after a severe burn in my late teens (years and years ago) on a cloudy day while painting my parents fence, always being careful in the sun. Not to mention the fact that I did have melanoma about ten years ago, not from not being careful but from having that particular type of ruddy skin and spending my childhood outside in the sun in the days before sunscreen. I was lucky that the large black splotch that resembled smeared paint was removed by surgically cutting a three-inch-diameter and fairly-deep chunk from my back. I was even luckier that they got it all early enough that no other action was required. At that time, that particular area of my back hadn’t seen the sun in over thirty-five years. So yes I am careful in the sun. I don’t need a new convert giving me free advice.
Then I get cooking and healthy eating advice from friends who fill their shopping cart with things like bologna, hot dogs and chocolate covered cranberries but suddenly jumped on the olive oil bandwagon, although later than most people. I can’t help but wonder if they cook their bologna and hot dogs in olive oil. The Doc and I have been cooking and eating healthy since the 80’s. In essence, since we met, which was long before it was fashionable. We eat a balanced diet. We don’t have a houseful of junk food and sugar-filled sweets. We are not overweight and have no chronic health issues. As a matter of fact, The Doc is trim and doesn’t sport a big gut and I have always been fairly slim. So why, I ask, does someone think we need cooking and healthy eating advice?
I get life advice from dysfunctional acquaintances who think I should be more outgoing and doing more with my time when they have no idea how I spend my time. When I do mention my particular introverted hobbies, they appear to shudder. These people always need to be going out and doing something but aren’t particularly any happier than I am. I would even venture to say that some are not happy at all. They just seem to be filling their time with things to fill their time. I just happen to do more of my things in my home, or in my yard or on the lake as opposed to going elsewhere. I feel content with my choices. I enjoy them. Perhaps that is why I have managed these pandemic times so well.
Years ago when JT was younger, people were always giving me parenting advice. There was the neighbour who liked to feed his son red-dyed candies then wonder why he was constantly bouncing off the walls, yet this neighbour seemed to think he knew what JT’s needs were more than we did. “You should put him in hockey,” he said more than once. The Doc’s older boys had been in hockey. We knew all about hockey. We laughed privately when we watched from our living room window as this neighbour and his kid tried to teach it to JT in their driveway only to eventually give up. JT was five, had flat feet and no interest in hockey.
There was the family member who repeatedly said I spent too much time with my son or that I was spoiling him. Believe me JT was / is not spoiled. Plus I implemented a quality time VS quantity time approach to parenting so that he would learn to entertain himself and I would stay sane. However, when it comes to spending time with JT, he is almost 29 years old and is still one of the few people I would prefer to spend time with. So how much time is too much? Other times this person would make comments like he’s different than other kids, his hair is crooked or he needs a hair cut. No matter what I did, this particular family member thought I was doing it wrong. I, like every other parent I knew, was learning on the job and going with my gut. I have a tendency to trust my gut. My instincts have never let me down.
Do people come into your home and say things like, “you should get rid of that plant,” or “you should use your side door instead of your front door?” They do to me. I don’t go into people’s houses and say things like that. It is their house; and if something drives me crazy about their house, which things sometimes do, I bite my tongue in their presence.
As a mature reasonably-well educated woman with a diverse work history, an independent streak and a boatload of common sense, all this free advice makes me bitchy. This might be hereditary. I come from a family of people who don’t like to be told what to do, but I do have most things figured out by now. If not. I have the internet at the tip of my fingers to research and get the facts on anything I haven’t quite got yet. I always believed in doing my homework and consulting experts. When I need help, I will seek advice. I may even seek your advice. I just prefer not to receive it unsolicited. I may need a haircut or to lose some attitude but I don’t need free advice.
Apparently I must have been overdue for a rant. There is nothing as liberating as a good rant. I feel better now. Thank you for reading.
Photo: The Doc