The 5 Advices you shouldn’t care about!

Spend five minutes with any random person and you soon realize that humans are goddamned horrible at talking to one another. And this is never more apparent than when we’re trying to help someone in crisis.

When a friend or family member is down, we usually have a few stock replies that sound good because we’re pretty sure somebody said them to us in the past, or maybe we heard them in a movie. Strangely, we know that when we’re on the receiving end of this generic advice that it’s about as helpful as a Windows error message, but we just can’t help it. I mean, what else are you going to say?


5:”You Just Need to Watch What You Eat! (or Drink, or Smoke, etc)”


Stick it near the beginning of some advice, and you can turn someone else’s vicious lifelong struggle into a trivial task they should feel ashamed for not having mastered by now. It’s the spouse of the smoker saying “You just need to quit those things!”; it’s the friends of the clinically depressed woman telling her “You just need to snap out of it!”; it’s the dude saying to his heartbroken friend, “You just need to get over her! After all, she’s dead!”

Just, just, just. Well, you just need to take this wire brush and cram it all the way into your asshole!


4:”You Just Need to Cheer Up!”

As someone who is frequently in bad moods, the worst part is knowing that everyone is going to bug you about it — the people who like you will ask why; the people who don’t like you will whisper to one another that you’re in “one of your moods.” (Note: Even if you’re only in one of those moods twice a year, you’ll still get a reputation for it.) So in addition to already feeling like your skull is full of wasps, you now have the added pressure of having to hide it from everyone, because nobody can just leave it alone.

3:”You Just Need to Believe in Yourself!”

This is the catch-all advice for everyone from dudes hitting the dating scene, to new job applicants, to NFL quarterbacks — you’ll hear it your whole life. And it is absolutely right, on the surface — when you go swaggering into a situation acting like a hotshot rock star, people will follow you to the ends of the Earth. So yes, confidence works. People love confidence.

But like much of the advice on this list, it completely misunderstands what it’s asking the other person to do.

See, confidence is inspiring and sexy because it is an indicator of past success. If I have not actually had that past success, then you’re asking me to simply get really good at faking confidence. And while this is useful advice (becoming an expert at lying is actually a very effective recipe for success, in any field), it’s probably not what you intended.

2:”Just Be Yourself!”

If you’re walking into a situation where you need to make a good impression and all you have to go on is “Just be yourself,” I don’t even know what that means. I don’t want to tug on the thread that holds all of human society together, but there is no such thing. There is no “yourself” to be.

So, is it just another way of saying “Follow your gut”? What does that mean, other than to do whatever your urges tell you to do in that given moment? Because that’s a recipe for goddamned disaster — the careful consideration that makes you back off from your first impulse is just as much a part of “you” as your “gut” is (if you want proof, go get drunk — that’s what you are when your gut doesn’t have the thinking part of the brain to keep it in check).



1:”You Just Need to Find What You Were Meant to Do With Your Life!”

For us privileged folk reading this, it’s horrible news — it means you have to forge your own future, and the potential for you to screw it up is huge. The failures are all around you — old, miserable, bitter, lonely people who loathe their jobs and spouses. This shit isn’t a movie — there’s no script, no guaranteed happy ending, no smooth path in the woods you simply have to find. You have to make the path by slowly hacking away at the trees and weeds and brambles, one day at a time. And you won’t stick with it if you’re spending the whole time thinking, “Man, if I don’t find my gold-paved road soon, I’m just going to quit.”


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