Allow me to invoke the late, great Gretchen Wieners regarding “the rules of feminism.”
Gretchen was a little misinformed about what the word “feminism” meant, but “irregardless,” she understood a thing or two about female interaction. (I’m sorry if you’ve never seen Mean Girls, because all of that was just completely lost on you. Also, you live under a rock.)
Girls are the more confusing, overly emotional breed of humankind with an innate code that governs their existence. Let’s dive into the female psyche, shall we? Fair warning, it’s a scary, glittery place comprised of scientifically inaccurate diet tips and 2002 Avril Lavigne lyrics (I wore a men’s tie and all black for 2nd grade out-of-uniform days—the punk phase is so real).
There’s not enough room in all of cyberspace to fully dissect what goes on in the female brain, so I want to focus on one specific aspect of what it means to be a lady:
Asking anyone who will listen for advice.
I don’t mean to generalize, but most girls run literally everything by their friends, coworkers, second cousins and the person in line behind them at Starbucks before they make a decision. If these jeans make you look fat (if you have to ask, they do), where (if) you should eat lunch, whether a haircut is necessary… the list goes on. But let’s not forget the main topic of advising discussion: boys.
Sometimes we ask advice because we want someone else to corroborate what we already know about someone. Sometimes we ask because we’re clueless and just want someone else to make decisions for us (lazy squad). But regardless, we ask. We always ask.
People joke that if you look at a girl’s camera roll, it’s nothing but screenshots of text conversations. The main idea here is that females are completely incapable of normal interaction without a team of romance advisors: “I’ll send you our entire conversation from the past four days, and then let’s psychoanalyze every single thing he said and how long it took him to reply to determine whether or not he gives two sh*ts.”
I know it’s so tempting (and I’m so guilty of it) to ask for advice on which adjective sounds less desperate or how long you should wait to answer “What are you doing?”
The problem with advice on personal decisions is that everyone’s batting for a different team. Sure, your friend who met her soul mate in 6th grade might urge you to go for it, but your friend who’s been recently rejected will discourage you from making any moves.
Obviously both mean well, but it’s honestly impossible to separate your own experiences and opinions from your objective analysis of someone else’s situation. Think about how you give advice: you put yourself in their shoes, and then tell them what you would do.
Anyone noticing the flaw here? They aren’t you!! What might make sense in your life or for you personally might be completely wrong for them. That’s partially why I always like to say that life is a giant gray area: you really can’t compare two situations because everyone is SO different, therefore all connections and situations are different. It just doesn’t work.
I’m not saying never seek a second opinion or give anyone your two cents, but when it comes to love and friendship, you have to rely on your own gut. The most qualified person to make judgment calls on your life is—get this!—you.
If you don’t believe me, think back on any time when someone gave you advice that you weren’t particularly fond of. I’d be willing to bet money that you completely wrote it off and did what you wanted to do. So what does this mean?
Sometimes I think we want advice only when we feel like someone’s going to tell us what we want to hear. It takes the pressure off when we feel like other people agree with us, and it makes putting yourself out there so much less intimidating.
When someone tells you exactly what you were thinking, it’s reassuring. But when their opinion doesn’t match yours, it overcomplicates everything. You second-guess yourself. You wonder if your own instinct was way off base, and your confidence evaporates.
To clarify, I think there are a lot of areas in life that require guidance and advice: career paths, math class, big purchases, which show you should start binge-watching next, etc. But your own personal relationships and happiness? That can only come from you.
The fine print: