Last week, I told you about some brilliant advice my friend gave me while we were pissed on whisky and seven different types of craft beer. I want to be absolutely clear though: People rarely to never give good advice. It isn’t their fault. We are programmed to offer advice that validates our own life choices*. (This is because, when other people do what we have done, it makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us feel we are brilliant and correct and on the path to happiness, despite internal evidence to the contrary). Or else, if we’re really self aware and altruistic (and let’s face it we rarely to never are) we tell people what we would have done differently, with the benefit of hindsight. We do not have the requisite information and emotional distance to offer helpful advice to other people in almost all circumstances. Unless of course we are a doctor advising on medical treatments.
This is why you shouldn’t listen to anything anyone tells you to do. They haven’t got a clue, babe. They really don’t know what’s best. We’re all just improvising our way through life here. And it’s mostly misunderstandings, unreturned correspondence, fractious phone calls with our mum and overdue electricity bills. We cannot be expected to sort other people’s shit out along with everything else we’re juggling. You are just going to have to listen to a variety of opinions and come to your own conclusions in the end, like everybody else. And everything might fall apart anyway.
I say all this because over at Dear Mariella, The Guardian’s weekly advice column, there’s a woman who is harbouring a grudge towards a friend who gave her bad fertility advice that subsequently ruined her life. Of course, I’m sure it isn’t easy to come to terms with the fact you’ll never have biological children (though my sympathy here is limited due to my own fertility staring right down the barrel of a gun and no men stepping in to, erm, fire the required shots and impregnate me with a tiny baby to love before my womb dries up and blows off in the wind like those fluffy dandelion seeds). But at a certain point you have to accept that life is going to do what it wants to do and there is no amount advice from other people that can fix that.
Advice, like anything else, is simply the human brain fooling itself into thinking we have any control whatsoever over our existence. Let me tell you this: We don’t. So while I am very much still advocating the giving of advice on the basis that it helps us to maintain sanity in an increasingly frightening and unjust world, I am also telling you that on almost no account whatsoever should you listen to what your friends and loved ones tell you to do. Although if you are a woman over the age of 25 who does not earn money from the quality of her looks and you are going to a wedding this summer I want to suggest in the strongest possible terms that you avoid floral garments. Nobody’s average looks were ever improved by chintz — I might return to this subject in future weeks. I feel very strongly about it, for reasons I don’t quite understand.