Monday, October 26, 2009

asked and answered

left to me
My mother is not the kind of parent who hands out unwanted (or, for that matter, wanted) advice. She's never told how to put on lipstick or to raise children.

When I'd ask her what she thought I should do, she'd ask me right back, Niobe, what does your heart say?. And I tried to listen, really I did, but but the only thing I ever heard was the sound of my mind, clicking through the options like a ball on a roulette wheel.*

Follow your heart, she'd say. And it took me a very long time to understand that my heart wasn't going anywhere at all.

Do you like giving advice? Getting advice? Have you ever gotten a piece of really good advice, but found you just couldn't follow it?

*Though, in the fierce light of hindsight, even without having actually read Dan Savage, it's blindingly obvious that the correct answer to practically every single one of my questions was DTMFA.


Ruby said...

Oh, is that what it means...hehe

erica said...

Unsolicited advice often runs afoul of my stubbornness, even when the advice is good. I'm trying to work on this.

Tash said...

I remember years after breaking up with a rather toxic boyfriend and my mom making some allusion to it, I asked why she never said anything and she responded, "Oh, you wouldn't have listened. If anything, by saying something, I would've driven you right to him. You needed to figure it out for yourself, and you did."

Um, thanks?

I guess I'd rather do my own research -- I'll ask for advice, but I don't take kindly to people offering it up unasked.

Magpie said...

Learn something every day.

I don't give advice - but then, I don't take it either. :)

slouchy said...

No, I'm not one who tends to offer advice. And certainly not one to accept it.

niobe said...


While I wouldn't say that I'm good at taking even the best advice, I almost always love it when people give me advice -- solicited or not.

leanne said...

Dan's columns are always interesting. But DTMFA is one of the highlights. So was IMTFA (the I being for impeach).

I do like giving advice. Though I try to stick to the solicited variety.

Getting advice... yeah, I like to get others opinions on things, too. Everybody's got a different perspective.

I think it all depends on how the advice is given.

leanne said...

Crap. ITMFA.

christina(apronstrings) said...

I like advice. If it has any merit-no 'just relax' b.s. I also give advice-I try to only if I've been in the recipient's shoes and wished I'd heard it sooner.

after iris said...

I am an advice-giver... I've learnt the hard way that it should never be unsolicited! I am often asked for my opinion. I don't really know why. I try to be honest without being hurtful.

I like getting advice from people I trust; they tend to be people who don't offer it freely.

The best advice I never took: dropping languages at school, studying Shakespeare instead of Medicine, spending every penny I earn (and sometimes more) rather than saving, never doing piano practice, trying a variety of illegal substances... I should have listened to my dad in (almost) all of these instances!

Which Box said...

Hmm, interesting. And probably why you have a blog.

I used to think comments were for giving advice, but I try to lighten up on the advice and just give support.

I myself love to hear a range of opinions, but in the end decide for myself. Usually.

Sarah said...

I'm guilty of giving it a bit too freely. I really try (NOW) to rein it in and wait for a very clear request before I offer my perspective. I do love getting advice, but I tend to rip it apart rather than just following it - those who know me best have learned how to dance around things a certain way, which they shouldn't have to do. I'm blessed that they love me enough to bother! I do try to make a point of eating my humble pie and thanking whomever when I finally recognize their genius, though.

niobe said...

@Which Box: Um, that's a bull's eye.

And it also explains why (as a general matter, with some exceptions) I feel about unsolicited support the way most people apparently feel about unsolicited advice.

niobe said...

And, just to be clear -- which I obviously wasn't:

When I write something on my blog about something sad or difficult that happened to me or even just a garden variety Poor-Little-Niobe post, that absolutely counts as soliciting support and any supportive comments or emails are very, very much appreciated.

Furrow said...

There are times when I don't care for unsolicited advice (especially when my husband gives it, it seems) but it's better than silence.

And it really, really irks me when I ask for it and someone won't give it. My mother-in-law withholds begged for advice, even when it's abudantly clear that she has an opinion.

painted maypole said...

Dan Savage's brother was one of my professors in college. American Lit.

I used to really like giving advice... now I'm wary of it. I don't know nearly as much as I used to think I know.

The best advice I ever was given was "Make a choice and then MAKE IT BE the right choice." Pick one and give it all you've got. I tend to be a second guesser, and that piece of advice has helped me get rid of the second guessing a bunch.

areyoukiddingme said...

I'm sure I've gotten advice, but I can't really remember any of it, so I guess that's how much I pay attention to it. No, I don't mind getting advice, but I put it through my logic filter and see if it makes sense to me.

I like to give advice, even though I know no one really wants to hear it.

Aurelia said...

Your mother is soo interesting....because based on what you've told us, yeah, that's what she'd say. But it's not really the kind of advice moms always give. Y'know? Kids should follow their heart, but how do they know where it at first? Parents are supposed to give guidance to help them find it, I've always thought!

As for advice, I only mind receiving the crackpot kind, like "X is evil, just pray to this saint/take this magic product/repent your actions and it will all be cured!" Cause I really don't think that's helpful.

Otherwise I like advice.

I know I give it too much, but I'm trying to stop. It's kinda hard sometimes because I've been through so much and I really really want to save someone from the hell I've gone through if possible. And some people have emailed me, or told me directly that I have saved them and they were glad for my advice sometimes, which is good.

I just don't understand why people ask for advice in a post, or even EMAIL me fer chrissakes asking for advice, and then get pissed off when they get it. Really, if you ask for it, you might get it, and if you don't want to hear something, perhaps you shouldn't ask.

Anonymous said...

i am decisive to the point of I CAN'T HEAR YOU, so i don't always like getting advice--when i need it, i am pretty darn good at asking for it. i LOVE giving advice. what can i say. i'm the virgo oldest child of a social worker. and i've been told that i give good advice, so that's like fuel to the flame! :)

i've gotten good advice and been unable to follow it lots of times. i'm a learn by doing person and sometimes, i just have to find out for myself.

Liz the PT

docgrumbles said...

I always think I want advice, but ultimately I hate being told what to do... so I never follow it.

moplans said...

I love giving advice
I have to keep that is check

B said...


That sounds serious. Big year for you.

advice? only like it when its coming from my mouth. I'm so very wise.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher so I give advice and tell people what to do ALL DAY LONG! Ugh. I feel like Charlie Brown's teachers most of the time, because according to how they DON'T follow anything I say, my voice must sound like "wa waawa waaa wa." And I don't really like to give advice either. But I do like to receive helpful comments and constructive criticism.

Anonymous said...

I really struggle with 'listening to my heart' but I rather like getting good advice... the kind that tattoos itself in your brain. I often respect outsider's view of me more than my own internal view of my situations. I also sometimes like it when people share well intentioned advice, but as soon as I hear it I know it isn't what is right for me. Often I don't realize that until faced with the advice.

I remember when I boarded the plane to fly off to Uni, my dad suggested that I use my ears more than my mouth... hmmm I struggled with that one, but still think it is good advice for me.

serenity said...

I remember ignoring advice from my parents for a very long time. Never mattered WHAT it was, just decided that I'd rather find my own way, thankyouverymuch.

In fact, I STILL do it. My mother makes it her personal mission to take pretty much anything I say and give me some sort of advice related to it. Makes J and I laugh, actually. A LOT. We take bets on the advice we're going to get.

But there was a time where I found myself in what I believed to be desperate need of career advice from my father. And poor guy - he floundered. And said something similar, though his was more like "Sh*t, Serenity, I don't know what you should do. What do YOU think you should do?"

But I remember feeling bewildered that the ONE TIME I wanted advice I couldn't get it.

Probably because I wanted it from my dad and not my mom.

Because of that, though, I tend not to give advice unless someone directly asks me for it. Or posts about it on their blog.


Misc Momma said...

Oh, I surely give advice. Solicited or not. As for taking advice, that's fuzzy. I think I usually ask for it, but disregard it almost immediately.