Everyone has experience in some way, shape or form; it’s what life is comprised of. Mostly, these will not the same experiences as yours – even far from it, sometimes – but that doesn’t negate the whole thing. If people were to only give advice if they’d had a 99% similar experience – not to mention with the same approximate impact – no one would ever give advice.
I’m actually a perpetrator myself this time, so I suppose that for me this sounds a little bit like a perfect world scenario. I often find myself struggling to take advice from others. Not so much because their experiences don’t match mine, but because I’d rather work through shit my own way. I understand that most advice comes from a well-meaning standpoint, but getting advice when you haven’t asked for it?
So which is it, Robert? Should I accept advice or not?
It’s both, actually. Only accept advice if you’re really open to it, but always acknowledge the advice-givers experience. (Unless, of course, we’re talking about that overused sit-com trope. You know the one: ‘You lost custody of your child? Well, one of my cats vanished last night, so I know what you’re going through . . . [laugh track]’ If people like this exist in real life, punch them right in the face.)
The example I see the most in my own life concerns heartbreak, because everyone thinks their heartbreak is worse. ‘You’ll never understand how much I loved her! She was my everything!’ Well, you say that now, but in a few years you’ll be married and own a house and only think about her occasionally when you touch your . . . computer. ‘How can you know that? Just because you hated your ex and was glad to be rid of her, that doesn’t mean this isn’t real!‘ And there it is ‘bro’, you’ve just undermined my experiences, subverted my advice and acted like a douche in the process.
But respect is a two way street, right? This means the advice-giver must learn to respect the advicee’s (totally a word) experiences as well. Okay, so my friend just crashed his first real relationship while I’m two times divorced and full of cynicism. Maybe my friend doesn’t need to hear how all relationships are the same once you get down to it. Maybe he needs to be hurting right now. Maybe whatshername really was the one?
There is no right answer here, folks. I’m just a proud fool who has trouble taking advice and a penchant for dishing it out. It doesn’t matter if you give or receive, just remember that experiences are real and heavy for everyone, and they count for something. Respect what others have been through, and what they know.
– Sincerely, Bishop
(I’ll try to write these things at a more steady pace from now on)