My aunt told me something the other day that I can’t help but agree with: everyone in the world has a piece of advice for you.
If I wanted, I could walk around my office every hour and ask someone different to shine some light on being a twenty-something. Or making friends. Or cooking for one. Or what TV shows I need to watch this fall.
And some of the answers might overlap or contradict or subtly complement each other. But it’d be impossible to listen to every single snippet.
We forget, sometimes, that the whole world is pinging us with advice: wash your hair with this shampoo, eat these sweet potato fries, run in these racing spikes.
But the lessons I pull from advertisers are often the ones I already believed, deep down, whether I thought about it or not.
It’s the same with relationships.
When I call my father on the phone, I can pretty much map his conversation on a graph. It starts calm and rational, building when I can’t just stop and breathe and listen to him, and ends, inevitably, with me laughing.
Because he always does it. He has a piece of knowledge tucked behind his ear for every occasion that crops up, and it’s not because he’s accrued endless experiences in his 50 years. It’s because he learns to take Experience A and apply it to Experience B and C and D.
So he doesn’t need six different answers to the same question. He doesn’t have to walk around his office at lunchtime and survey his coworkers about what TV show to watch tonight. He knows what he likes and trusts what he’s already learned to be enough.
Sometimes, I think, we’ve got too much information. And we’re not the best at sorting it all out. What matters right now versus what won’t ever matter, even if it seems cool and flashy.
I’m a big believer in staying small and growing big. Taking what you know and, if you’re happy and it works and it’s not stalled out, using it until that changes.
The same goes for advice-givers. The more people I talk to about my fears and dreams and biggest anxiety-inducing situations, the more I realize we’re all overlapping. And we all have similar bits of knowledge floating into each others’ ears.
And at the end of the day, if we talk to the ones who matter and the ones we trust and entertain the ideas we’d like to entertain, that’s enough.
We don’t need sixteen bottles of shampoo to choose from or data graphed from an elaborate survey to tell us how to proceed next with a troubled relationship.
Some things really are quiet and simple.