Thoughts On… Giving and Taking Advice

Thoughts on...

I feel as though, in my limited time on this earth so far, I have been through A Few Things.

I’ve been through disappointment and heartbreak, I’ve been through grief and adversity. After all, thirty years is probably younger than it used to be, but – unfortunately – it’s not young.

I haven’t found my one true career path, been married or had a child (which they had by this age), and I haven’t purchased my forever home (which they also had by this age). Times are different now. Friends are only now starting to get engaged and married. Very few have had children yet. Even fewer own their own homes.

At thirty, we are just teetering on the precipice of proper adulthood.

And while we windmill our arms wildly, trying to keep our balance, not sure if we’re ready to topple over the edge, we listen to each others’ struggles and we give each other advice based on things in life we have experienced.

I dole out a lot of advice for somebody who often knows nothing*.

According to friends, I often – probably to their surprise and almost always to my own – give good, useful advice. Relationship advice is the most common variety, although I can also help out with an intriguingly wide-ranging list of topics such as effective team management, faulty ballcock** valves,  mental health, cooking, and so on.

Lately, I’ve found myself advising a lot of people to take care of themselves.

I’ve seen an alarming amount of people be unnecessarily harsh on themselves recently, both online and in real life, and I’ve tried to take the time out to tell each one to take it easy. Take a Time Out. Life is hard, and sometimes we make it harder on ourselves for no reason. We say things to and about ourselves that we would never in good conscience say to another human being. We beat ourselves up for not being ‘enough,’ when there is nothing to be quantified. When we are at our lowest, that’s when we punch at ourselves from the inside; that’s when we think the worst of ourselves, that’s when we are at our most self-critical.

We kick ourselves when we’re down.

I feel like in the past short while I have had to tell too many people to be kinder to themselves. I have told them to be more patient, to be more gentle, to give themselves the space and the encouragement to get out of the rut they find themselves in. I’ve reminded them of their talents, their kindness, their grit, their goodness. I’ve told them to treat themselves like they would their closest friend. I’ve advised patience for some and self-belief for others, communication for those feeling alone and tenacity for those feeling trapped.

I give all of this advice hoping it will be heard, because I really believe it. I believe in the people I’m giving advice to, and all I want is for them to be happy. I want to see them smile. I want to see them with their two feet planted firmly on the ground, ready for the bumps and unexpected curves in the road that life inevitably throws at us. I want them to be able to see how great they are, or at least look through my eyes and see how great I think they are. I want them to live their best lives.

And of course, at the same time, I know that it’s very difficult to take your own advice.

I’ve been there. I know it. It’s tough to cut yourself some slack when you’re at your lowest. It’s hard to see the way out when you feel cornered. You might logically know that you really are doing your best and you’ve just hit a temporary roadblock, but telling yourself that and believing it is an entirely different matter. It’s much easier to hear it, and internalise it, and believe it when it comes from somebody else.

So if you’re struggling, let me know. If you need a break, give me a sign.

I’ll say it so you don’t have to.

*Although I know cows can jump seven feet off the ground. And I know that male Angler Fish live horrifyingly grim lives. And I know that we are closer in years to Tyrannosaurus Rex than T-Rex was to the Stegosaurus. And I know Cleopatra lived closer to the time of the moon landing than she did to the time of the building of the pyramids. And I know that redheads require about 20% more anaesthetic than non-redheads. And I know that the smell that lingers in the air after it rains is called petrichor. And on, and on, and on….

**Was there ever a more inappropriate name for a household item?

New and Unexpected Housemate


I have a housemate called Lenny.

I don’t know when he moved in. He lives in the bathroom. I noticed him for the first time the other day. I opened the door, turned on the light, and there he was.

“Oh.” I said. “Hi.”

He froze, then ran for cover. He hid in the corner while I brushed my teeth. We watched each other warily. Well, I watched him warily. I can only assume he was watching me too. In reality, his eyes are far too small for me to know exactly where he was looking.

You see, Lenny is a silverfish*.

Since discovering him in my bathroom, I’ve done some investigating. Lenny appears to be a bachelor, and he’s fully grown which confuses me because I have never seen him before. Either he has always lived in my bathroom and I never knew, or he recently moved in without consulting me on the matter.

That first night, I spent an abnormal amount of time in bed staring at the ceiling and thinking about silverfish viewing apartments. I imagined Lenny strolling onto the tiled floor with an attractive silverfish realtor, listening to her as she explained the pros and cons.

“So this bathroom is frequented by two adult humans. I know you were probably hoping for more in terms of dandruff or hair, but then we’d really want to be looking at an elderly human’s bathroom and that would really strain your budget. I think this is a good compromise. Now, the only thing is that as you can see, they’ve recently installed a more powerful fan in the ceiling, which is going to cut down on humidity significantly. On the plus side this will make the price more negotiable. Also there is quite a lot of plaster to feast on and they sometimes leave books there on the countertop, so that is quite the perk….”

I googled silverfish to find out more about Lenny. Apparently almost everyone has a silverfish housemate. One or two are expected in rooms with high humidity. One website recommends overlooking their presence before adding, “If you have an infestation however, you may want to call pest control.”

…I think if I have an infestation I may want to move out, but that’s just me.

They’re very small and they eat plaster and book bindings and glue and hair. They don’t bite or spread disease, or even do much damage.

Oh, and they can live up to eight years.


According to the fountain of knowledge that is Wikipedia, the predecessors of silverfish are considered the earliest, most primitive insects. I can well believe this, since Lenny looks like he recently scuttled off a seabed from the Cambrian period. They can’t climb vertical surfaces. They are nocturnal. Also, as long as they have access to water they can live without food for more than a year.

What the hell, Lenny? What kind of a mutant fossil are you?

I don’t want to hurt Lenny. I don’t even really want to evict him. I will, however, be keeping a close eye on him. If he starts inviting over other silverfish to netflix and chill, or having silverfish parties until 5am, we may have to re-examine things. For the moment though, I’m happy to cohabitate.

As long as Lenny stays in his corner, we’ll be fine.


*Don’t google him, he’s not pretty.