I’ve been feeling a little crabby lately.
I may be the only person you know who wanted to write an advice column as a child.
When the newspaper came, I ripped through to see what Dear Abby or Ann Landers was telling people to do. I also loved Miss Manners, who was so cordial and polite in her responses that her readers probably didn’t even realize she was ripping them a new one when she told them you should never, under any circumstances, serve your guests scrambled eggs on paper plates.
Even at my young age, I was a little skeptical that the columns in the teen magazines were planted. Who writes “Dear Betty, all the popular kids at school are doing drugs. I really want to be popular. Should I start doing drugs, too?”
Still, I thought it would be fun to get paid for having opinions. One could argue that I have spent a good portion of my life preparing for the role.
That said, as I have grown older and wiser, I have come to the realization that I really don’t have the right to tell anyone what to do. And unless you are a certified counselor, neither do you.
My dad has an opinion on everything, but he almost always finishes by saying, “But what do I know?” I used to think it was just a cute self-effacing disclaimer, but now I realize, what he’s really saying (in his cute, self-effacing, 94-year old way) is, “But what do I know about you, your life, your circumstances? You may have a completely different idea, which is fine with me. Rock on.”
Here’s another thing I have learned: people are going to do what they want to do, anyway. They already know what they want to do when they ask your opinion, and you are just going to do one of two things: validate them or piss them off. At best, you’ll get an email from them a week later saying, “Thanks for your advice. I thought about it but realized that moving to Antarctica to be an amateur Penguinologist is a lifelong dream and I would be a fool to stay here and pay my bills first. But, thanks for talking me through it!”
What do I know? Peace out. Rock on.