Dear Abigail Van Buren. I know you’ve been dead a few months now. You enjoyed a long and successful career dispensing advice to those who wrote to you as Dear Abby. Your twin sister Eppie did the same as Ann Landers.
I wish you were still alive because I need your advice. How do I get people to stop giving me advice? I’m serious. I mean unsolicited advice, advice I don’t want or need. People wrote to you because they wanted to hear your opinion, right? I mean, you didn’t just call up folks or knock on their doors and announce I’m here to tell you how to run your life, did you? Hopefully, you didn’t do it to your children either.
There are probably several qualified columnists or talk-show psychologists I could ask today for advice. But many I do come across are flippant or flagrantly rude. They lack your comforting wisdom and class. They make a mockery of human life by turning every situation into a trailer park side show, lacking compassion and humor.
I am older now and have earned my emotional stripes, my peace of mind. Unless someone is being really rude or bugging the shit out of me, I have no desire to give anyone a piece of my mind. Unless I am asked for an opinion or a recommendation, I try not to offer advice to my friends or family. And I don’t want any either, thank you!
For example, recently I told several friends I am looking for a new place to live and asked them to keep their eyes and ears open for me. To be fair, I’ve received some good For Rent leads. But the advice … !!! Have you thought of talking to a realtor? Have your walked around the neighborhood? Have you looked online at ads? Blah, blah.
Give me a break! How do you think I landed in my current home or the 10 others I’ve enjoyed in the last 40 years? Do you honestly think the magic moving wizard flew past my window and gave me a lift on his carpet to the home of my dreams? Who do you think did the work of looking, calling, walking, driving, signing rental forms, paying security deposits – not to mention hiring a truck or mover, securing boxes, cleaning, packing, unpacking, cleaning, keeping cats calm, waiting for the gas, electricity and cable? All while working full-time?
The same goes for other areas of my life too. Unless I am taking a class or ask for specific feedback, I don’t want to be told what to feel, eat, wear, move (as in body parts), read or write. I think I understand why people do it. They think they’re being helpful and don’t like to feel powerless when confronted with something they may not know.
For example, someone recently asked me for book recommendations on a certain subject and I had none. Part of me wanted to suggest she Google or look on Amazon or in a bookstore in an attempt to feel I was helping, but I stopped myself. That would be insulting to her years of experience as a professional, as well as her intelligence.
Nothing about my own life has been easy. I’ve worked hard for more than 40 years, I raised two children alone, I turned to outside help (groups, counseling, reading) when I needed it. I learned almost everything the hard way. I’ve come through with grace, strength, humor and profound gratitude. I don’t have energy left over to run anyone else’s life. Nor do I have patience for those who think they know how I should run mine.
Thank you, Dear Abby and Ann, I knew you’d understand.