A blog post wherein I try my hand at offering advice
As I continue to put myself on a creative writing schedule and attempt to find my “voice”/figure out what this blog is going to be, I’ve decided to crowdsource for some ideas. My friend Erin P. suggested over email the other day that I turn this blog into an advice column.
My immediate reaction was to scoff.
“Scoff, scoff!” said I, out loud, to no one in particular when I read her email. I do not believe myself to have my shit together AT ALL. When faced with divergent paths, I generally make decisions driven entirely by my first emotion — an emotion, unfortunately, that is frequently anger. I am not a good listener, and when it comes to being considerate of others I’m downright lousy.
But, still, maybe Erin’s onto something. Maybe I could periodically write down a few thoughts as a sort of “Ghost of Christmas Future” — don’t be like me! It’s worth a shot. And ‘tis the season, after all.
So, here goes. Here is a list of my most recent lessons learned. Feel free to take all of these under advisement (or with a grain of salt).
1. Get to know everyone at your job, and befriend them professionally.
When I started my current job, I was coming in from a work environment that was semi-toxic: I’d gotten too chummy with a few co-workers, and without getting into it too much, doing that marked the beginning of the end of me working there. As a result, when I got here, I purposely made friends with NO ONE.
Fast-forward seven years, and I barely know anyone outside my department. I have been promoted, but not necessarily at the speed with which I’d like. And, a few opportunities that I’ve really wanted have bypassed me entirely.
Why? Because you need other people, dammit. Our country likes to praise rugged individualism and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but that’s a lot of baloney, in my opinion. Yes, you have to work hard, that’s a given. But you also need people to know you well enough to notice your hard work and like you well enough to sing your praises. And that singing has to be loud enough for people with organizational clout to hear.
If I had made more of an effort to be friendlier, I think I’d have more people pulling for me around there — and that might make all the difference.
2. Learn to drink water at an early age/teach your young kids to drink water.
I remember when I was a kid, I used to think water “tasted bad.” I realize now as an adult that our house for whatever reason had metallic tasting tap water, and I extrapolated that out to mean that all water everywhere was like licking a penny. I routinely had milk with dinner and barely ever drank water of my own accord until after I graduated from college.
POST-COLLEGE, PEOPLE. I was post-college when I actually started drinking water regularly. I still struggle to drink the recommended amount daily.
This is a huge handicap for my life! I am constantly dehydrated, and as a result constantly HUNGRY! I feel like my hydrophobia contributed to my forever struggle with my weight. I just wish I had started the habit earlier in my life.
3. Being a good friend means occasionally having to say things your friend doesn’t want to hear/hear things you don’t want to hear.
Obviously, being a cheerleader is 99 percent of being a good friend. Have your people’s backs. Be genuinely happy for your friends when something good happens for them. This right here is why my girlfriend Alyssa is by far my best friend — she will always, always, ALWAYS shout it from the rooftops when something great happens for me, no matter what is going on in her life. She has taught me a TON of what it means to be there for someone.
However, we’re not all saints and your friends are humans. They will make the same shitty choices for their lives that you will make, but the difference will be that you’re ever so slightly less invested personally in their decisions, and with that distance comes clarity.* As a result, sometimes you’ve gotta give ‘em a little tough love.
Tough love can be both hard to give and to receive. But if you truly care about someone, you will be honest with them about the big things.** And similarly, you shouldn’t lash out at someone if they speak up about something they disagree with about you.
That’s about as much advice as I can muster for today. I think if you can follow these three things, you’ll be way better off than I am, so my work here is done. But hey, what do I know.
*Well, sometimes. Refer back to me saying I don’t have my shit together.
**You don’t have to be honest about EVERYTHING. It’s still OK to white lie about bad haircuts and the like.