I have opinions. About government, life, religion, history, education. The quality of literature and literacy. Dogs, ecology and wildlife. Movies and cameras, not to mention photography and art. I probably have an opinion about you, but unless you ask me directly, you’ll never know what it is.
We should all butt out of each others’ business. My love life, eating habits, whether or not I exercise or drink too much or not enough, is not your business. I’m not interested in your opinion unless you’re my husband, best friend or doctor. Then I’ll at least listen.
Even if you want my opinion on something personal, I’m wary of giving it. Because I’ve had one too many people over the years offer me bad advice. People who make assumptions about my health, my finances, my choices. My taste. Body shape. Diet. How much or how little I exercise.
I will listen with genuine interest to your experiences, how a particular diet or treatment helped you. I’ll mentally try it on for size to see if there’s any chance it might work for me. It takes me a while to think things over, figure out if I can make a lifestyle change. If I can live with the repercussions of a change.
On the other hand, people who outright tell me it’s my obligation to “get in shape” make me want to hit them with a two-by-four upside the head. Those who tell me “truths” they’ve gleaned from Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. Or the latest exercise or trendy diet. I immediately visualize taping their mouths shut with duct tape. People who insist I accept Jesus don’t make me want to go to church. They make me want to grab a large-caliber weapon and blow them to Kingdom come where they can meet Jesus in person. Let me know how that works out.
Too many people offer too much advice based on too little evidence, knowledge or even commonsense.
I will offer my experience as evidence — and accept yours too. But don’t stuff it up my nose. Don’t tell me how to run my life. Never tell me what to think.
When I offer advice, I work hard to make it benign. “Calm down and breathe” I will tell someone who is clearly overwrought. It’s good advice. You can’t go wrong with it.
“Think carefully before you make a major life change,” I will advise. More benign advice. It can’t hurt anyone. And that’s as far as I’ll go Oh, I may suggest medication or a second opinion to someone who has an illness I’ve got or had. Suggest that if you need a CPAP machine to breathe while you sleep, smoking two packs a day may not be your healthiest choice. Make sure you get a mammogram on time. Rest when you’re tired, enjoy life while you can. This is advice you could probably get from a fortune cookie. It would be good advice regardless.
The most recent piece of advice came from a woman who told me I should have my breast implants removed and get a prosthetic brassière because sleeping in a sports bra is stupid. I turned purple. Steam came out of my ears. I haven’t seen her since.
If you absolutely cannot control yourself and must offer me advice, be careful. If it sounds like an order, my controlled but evil temper will pop out of its hidey hole. My best friend and I never give each other advice. We make carefully couched suggestions and leave it at that. Wise move, don’t you think?
My last remaining goal in life is to be allowed to live without other people telling me what to do. I’ve earned that.