Thoughts on...

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?


  • pyjamasandcrumpets

    Your advice is usually pretty good. At least in the online sphere.

    A cow can jump seven feet off the ground!? Our cows can rarely clear a normal fence, mostly they burst through if they’ve taken a liking to the other side. We must have awfully lazy cows…

  • bexoxo

    I wish more doctors knew about the ‘redheads require about 20% more anesthetic than non-redheads’ fact. I remember having surgery on my mouth when I was younger and I felt everything! For the longest time, I couldn’t floss because I developed a phobia.

    And just to add to your repertoire: the combination of red hair and blue eyes is the rarest combination in the world with less than 2% of the population (so I’m basically a unicorn). 🙂

  • James

    My other half is a redhead – she is staring triumphantly at me in an “I told you so” manner after I shared that little nugget of wisdom, which implies she had already told me this and I disbelieved her, but we’ve literally never had that conversation. Ever.

  • Angela

    I’m the advice giver in my group of friends, they all come to me!! Mostly I find myself giving out advice that I truly believe like living yourself and knowing your worth but don’t actually practice what I preach! Hypocrit?
    I did not know that about redheads!!😱 Everyday really is a school day!


    I’ve learned the hard way that people do not enjoy advice as much as I do. Someone tells me I can move my investments over from a CD to an OPA and increase my dividends by 12 percent and I’m like “YAY THANK YOU” but I can take that advice and tell a friend, and they are like “IM AN ADULT DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY MONEY” lol. So As a general rule I save my advice for my blog. Another great post Quinn

  • Kerri

    Society has put so much pressure especially on women to get married before 30, have a child before 30 and much more. What if someone doesn’t want to have a child all together? A women doesn’t have to have a child. A women doesn’t have to get married. It is their own personal decision at the end of the day. The person should do what works for them and makes them happy 🙂 Forget about what the voices of others has to say because at the end of the day, we all have one life. Make it the one you want 🙂 Thank you for this!

  • shruti502

    I actually needed these words today.I must say it is difficult for me to wrap these words in my head and actually follow what you have written but I will certainly try.Thank you so much for writing this post.I wish you all the very best in whatever you pursue.Loads of love, appreciation and also a real twinkle in my eyes for the person you are.

  • Anthony

    I’m not sure ballcock valve is the worst name ever–I’ve always felt that the lazy Susan was rather harsh to people named Susan.

    As for advice. You’re right. Hearing it from other people seems so much more effective than from yourself.
    Also, I wonder, why is it criticism from someone who you hardly know is so much more powerful than praise from someone you know (and love).

    As for me, I could use a little bit of good vibes thrown my way. Nothing is seriously wrong….I just don’t feel as positive as I know I should. It sounds strange, but despite my vocabulary, I can’t exactly express it (maybe I am afraid to express it….I’ll need to think on that one). Basically, I tried smiling at people in the morning on my walk to work. I looked at my reflection and realized that it really didn’t look like a smile….’

    Sorry to put this burden on you.

    • Quinn

      Poor Susan.

      I think praise from people we know can feel like a kindness, like they say it because they love us. People who don’t know us – in theory – have no reason to be kind or unkind, since they’re not invested, so their opinions seem to weigh more. It’s silly, because it should really be the other way around, but that’s what I think it comes down to.

      Sending you all the good vibes. I’m sure your smile has brightened the days of a few people! Keep smiling!

  • westcorkfit

    We do run the risk, though, of not allowing people to sit that slump out. I’m a fixer. I think I’ve learned that about myself. It occurred to me while someone was trying to ‘fix’ me. I had gotten particularly upsetting news and I was in a lull. I wanted to cry and curse and scream and cry some more but that makes people uncomfortable so they try to fix things for you. I just wanted to let it all all and then feel better. There is nothing like a good cry after all. So now, when listening, I always ask “Do you want me to just listen and hug you or are we fixing this”. Seems to clear up confusion and avoid frustration.

    • Quinn

      That’s true. Sometimes you just need a good wallow or an ear to bend, and advice isn’t really necessary at all..

  • Awkwardly Alive

    I love this so much.
    All of those facts that you raddled off on the first asterisk blew my mind and I have many questions. Especially because I’m a redhead. And I live next to cows.

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