Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. Mary Schmich, “Wear Sunscreen”
Most of my days begin with reading some sort of article. Some days, I find it on Twitter and other days, like today, someone sends it my way. This morning a coworker sent me an article from LinkedIn entitled, “The 7 Things I Would Tell Myself 25 Years Ago.” Any time I see lists like this, part of me cringes because I know I am most likely not going to read anything new. I’m going to read the same aphorisms, clichés and recycled pieces of advice that clutter every list of this ilk.
And, still, I’m sucked into the vortex of washed-up advice, partly because I write a blog whose primary audience is twenty somethings and I feel obligated to keep an eye on information thrown out there for this audience. Plus, I’m a sucker for quotes or inspiration and, every now and again, these lists contain some sort of gem that I want to pocket for a shitty day.
But, the first piece of advice on the aforementioned list was “Follow your passion.” I let out a heavy sigh and prepared myself to read every piece of advice I have already heard one too many times.
We get it. And, by we, I mean twenty somethings. We’re young, we’re dumb, we’re in debt, we don’t eat healthy, we need more sleep, we need more water, BLAH BLAH BLAH. But, you know what we don’t need? Any more lists or articles with the same supposed pearls of wisdom. I’ve amassed some of the “advice” that it is time to recycle, thanks to my own frustrations as well as a quick social media poll of the people who are foolish enough to follow me.
“You’ll understand/change your mind when you’re older.”
I have a coworker who is acute enough to always say “if” when she refers to my potential child-rearing. It’s not much of a secret that I’m not one of those people who is completely sold on the idea of having children. It makes my skin want to burst into 1,000 individual flames when people say, “Oh, you’ll change your mind when you’re older.” Please. Stop making assumptions about the future activity of my uterus. If any sentence includes “you’ll understand when you’re older” or “when I was your age,” please think twice before letting the sentence escape your mouth, you old fuck.
You don’t have to “make” it in your twenties/you have your whole life to get ahead.
Not only is this advice old, but I also find it to be extremely inaccurate. Right, you don’t have to “make” it in your twenties. We get that. I don’t know that many people who think they will conquer the entire world in one decade. You know why I don’t know those people? Because I don’t associate with delusional maniacs. But, the inaccurate piece is “you have your whole life to get ahead.” No. You don’t. Because there are people who will use this decade to hustle their ass off and they will be miles ahead of those who don’t. If you wait your whole life to get ahead, you’ll just end up behind.
Enjoy being single; you’ll find love when you least expect it.
Stop any sentences that sound like the beginning of a Carrie Bradshaw column. Please and thank you. And, also, this sentence does nothing for you when you’re curled up into a ball of feelings, drinking red wine and belting out Adele. Being single is like being in a relationship: there are good days and there are bad days. There are times when you are enjoying it and times when you would like a significant other. But, just no more of the amorphous and ambiguous, “Don’t worry, he/she will show up when you least expect it.” Gives me too many visions of someone popping up in a genie-like way or materializing from a cloud of smoke.
Or, any other iteration of “your clock is ticking, go make babies, go find a husband, BLAHHHH.” No thanks. Bye, ashy.
Get a mentor.
Coming from someone who has a few unofficial mentors, I still absolutely hate this advice. Someone mentoring you is a very organic process, born out of a natural rapport you have with a person and your respect for them, their work, etc. You don’t just go pick out a mentor the way you would a cucumber in the produce aisle.
This is the best decade of your life; enjoy it while it lasts.
Listen, I’m looking forward to my life consistently getting better, not worse. More earning power. Divorcing Sallie Mae. Jumping on yachts and other fancy shit. Witnessing weddings and births (weddings in person, births…not so much.) Writing books and books and more books. I am looking forward to a lot of goodness in this life, not just in this one decade.
Follow your passion.
I saved the best (or, in this case, worst) for last. I have truly started to hate these three words with every fiber of my being. Saying, “follow your passion” assumes privilege. Telling someone to sacrifice and take a low-paying job in an industry they love assumes they have the financial freedom to do that. It assumes that you are in a position, whether it be geographically, financially, emotionally or otherwise, to jump and do whatever the fuck you want to do. Newsflash: most of us are not there. At least not entirely. You know what was sad? Today, on Twitter, I said I wanted to read an interview with a full-time blogger who has student loans and could speak to their income stream. Crickets. Absolute crickets. If you know of that interview, please drop it in the comments section of this post because inquiring minds want to know.
I follow my passion, but I also have a salary and keep a roof over my damn head. I have not yet cracked the code on how to do this writing thing full-time, and I am perfectly OK with that. What I am not going to do is jump and leave my job and then try to figure it out under the guise of “following my passion.” No, sir. Not me. For now, following my passion means busting 9.5-hour days at my day job, coming home and then spending two or three hours on my side hustle. My passion is still very much alive and well and my lights are still very much on and running.
What are some other trite pieces of twenty something advice you’re tired of hearing? Drop those bad boys in the comments section.