I hope you get a chance to read this issue of Monday Slant. 😐
Apologies for this 24+ hour delay.
It has been a busy week with travel plans, shifting around and a brain freeze. I got no writing done this week.
This lull was triggered by something seemingly trivial.
Early this week, a person called me and went on an ‘advice rant’. They spoke to me for over an hour and told me what I should be doing with my life. No, I hadn’t asked their opinion. And no, they’re not my parents. (My parents don’t butt in my affairs. And for some reason, seem to have a lot of faith in my choices. Weird.)
This isn’t happening for the first time with this person. Over the past two years, they have called me off and on to—first subtly, then overtly—give advice. This is all in the realm of the deeply flawed notion of being a ‘well-wisher’. But what it really is, is this person’s inability to hear me say ‘no’ to their archaic ideas and an utter disregard for boundaries.
Dig a little deeper and it becomes apparent what it is all about. It seems like they want to validate their own life choices, by stridently insisting that I do things in a way that makes sense to them.
In some way, every single one of us is guilty of this, only the degree
may vary; we love to tell others what they are doing wrong. I for one have certainly been that guy—taking great pride in telling what others should do. But I was also 21 (or 24) when I was oblivious to it, so I was allowed to be an asshole. And today, I try to catch myself doing it.
More often than not, this cocksure insistence is, in fact, a consequence of being unsure in our own life. For some reason, we can’t make a choice and be fucking done with it. Some can and they’re gifted! But the rest of us need ‘validation'—from peers, parents, children, neighbours, extended relatives, pets and the guild that grants the award every year. Validation matters. I know that (believe me!). But why can’t we seek it from within, by setting our own parameters; instead of seeking it outside of us and becoming a nuisance to others? Life doesn’t need peer review.
Also, this call was loaded with talk about money. Pfft!
A lot of people who 'have money’ assume that those who don’t have as much, seek their advice. They never pause to ask if their advice is sought out even, almost as if they’re afraid of what they might hear.
That seems to be the irony of ‘making it’, either through your accomplishments or sheer age or some social sanction. Once you are on the other side, you feel like giving—time, gyaan (advice) or a piece of your pie, even (and especially) when people don’t want it.
The next morning I was overcome with negativity.
My inner critic, who had just been looking for something to criticize me, leaped at this opportunity. I had done fairly well to keep my negative voice in check. But it flared up. I felt like there was something terribly wrong with me, that I was being irresponsible and inadequate in some way, that I was lazy and lacked talent—the whole nine yards.
I couldn’t write anything the following day. Or the day after. And when I did write, I felt hesitant to publish it. My writing felt terrible. I had spiraled into complete self-doubt. Before, I would find the courage to move forward despite these feelings. But I spent a week unable to get past the self-criticism.
Sometime mid last year, I turned into a complete recluse
. It has to be one of the best things I have done in my life. After spending a year focusing on myself, I thought I had finally gotten immune to people’s shitty behaviour. But I am not indifferent to people judging me to my face. Moreover, I judge myself for some things. That
is the real work that needs doing.
I have a trusted few from whom I take feedback on living life. To everyone else who inserts themselves into our life with their advice, we must show them the door or the finger. Preferably both.
The onus is not on you to prove to a naysayer that your path is worth pursuing. We make choices and we must live with the consequences; that’s all there is. In fact there is no onus (only… never mind). To think that one path is better than the other is to reveal one’s own limited worldview. There are as many paths as there are people.
Life is so much more than becoming rich and counting your bank balance; or becoming famous and posing for a selfie with smelly strangers. Ask me, I know what life’s all about. I’m great.
Your heart sings a song; if there is one thing you are duty-bound to do, it is to sit in a quiet corner and listen to it.
Have a great one!