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 Рprobably to their surprise and almost always to my own Рgive 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?

Thoughts On… Adulting Struggles

It is unseasonably warm in Ireland at the moment. In a freak occurence, the sun is actually visible, the clouds are wispy and barely-there, and the temperature has crept up to Irish-sunburn levels (which isn’t very high, but it’s high enough for people to wander the streets in singlets, puffing and red-faced, panting about how it’s “FAR too hot!”).

I am currently sitting at my table, with a cup of tea beside me to wash down my many supplements*, thinking of the many, many things on my To Do List. The thoughts of all these things that need to be done have come together to form a thick, grey, thundercloud of tasks, and every so often it sends forks of lightning formed from pure unadulterated panic down my spine.

This is Not Good.

I know myself well enough to know that I need to get a handle on this situation. I feel overwhelmed, but I know that all the items on my endlessly long To Do List are doable; it’s only when thinking of all of them, together and at the same time, that I start to sweat and wonder whether it might be a good idea to change my name to Carmen Sandiego and move to Raja Ampat to sell beaded bracelets on the side of the road.

I do love making beaded bracelets…

Adulting is hard sometimes. I have yet to master the life skill of organisation. I rarely make lists, and even when I do make lists I inevitably lose them, which usually leaves me worse off than I was before. I often lose track of time because I’m so focused on a single thing that I forget 1.) to eat, 2.) that time is passing and 3.) there are in fact other things that require my attention. The fact that this blog is still alive and updated is a minor miracle considering how abysmal my scheduling skills can be.

And yet…

I love the feeling of being productive. I love the days when I smash through the things on my To Do List with reckless abandon and reach nightfall exhausted but delighted by my progress. I love seeing things look the way I envisioned, or finishing something and knowing I don’t need to worry about it again for a while. I love escaping out from under the crushingly heavy Sisyphean boulder of responsibility that builds up every once in a while after a period of slacking (or, say, a particularly lazy holiday).

Considering that I LOATHE this feeling of having every chore ever invented hanging over my head, feel positively meh about actually doing them, and enjoy the feeling of having done them, you would think the obvious thing would be to get through them as quickly as possible. The adult, rational part of the brain would tell you that it is the only logical course of action. I know this.

So why am I still sitting here?

Wish me luck. If you have anything stronger than luck (bourbon?), send that too. If you have a way of tackling mammoth To Do Lists in a productive manner, let me know your secret. You can whisper it. You can even send it by smoke signal; I’ll keep one eye on the windows just in case.

I’ll be right here, tediously checking my way through a list as long as my arm.

 

*Seriously it’s getting out of control; I’m now taking iron because my iron stores are low, folic acid because a friend told me everyone should be taking it all the time, vitamin D because I rarely see the sun here, vitamin B12 for my skin and vitamin C and zinc to help absorb the iron. I was talking to a friend recently who said I should also be taking magnesium, but I really don’t think I can bring myself to take more than five tablets in a day unless there is a serious and pressing need…