What the fuck is wrong with you people, Part four: Just because you didn't die doesn't mean it was good advice

Like everyone else on the planet, I have been subjected to some completely goddamn useless advice in my life. Unlike many people, I have been told I am good at giving the stuff out, and perhaps unfortunately, I am arrogant enough to believe other people when they say this. I used to hang out on Omegle as the Advice Fairy, in fact. I got dropped northwards of 90% of the time when the other person realized I wasn't interested in watching them type out their wank session, but the people who hung around were for some reason impressed.

I have found, over lo these thirty years I have spent on Earth, that some of the most-repeated pieces of traditional advice are among the least-helpful fucking suggestions I have ever heard in my life. People say these things because at some point someone said it to them, and it didn't get them killed outright, so they figure it worked. The logic here is too dodgy for words. This is like remembering that you ate glue when you were in kindergarten and you're fine now, so clearly you should start making your kids peanut butter and Elmer's sandwiches for lunch.

"Just be yourself," for instance. This is terrible advice. The only times you'd ever even ask a question that gets this answer are times when you've tried that and discovered that "yourself" is apparently a useless git who wants to go gibber in the corner, because someone has somehow managed to replace your otherwise perfectly good brains with a light caramel flán. And what does that even mean, anyway? Who else do they think you're going to be? Are they really afraid you're going to go ask that poor girl to prom in character as Abraham Lincoln or something?

What they actually want to tell you here, or should anyway, is that it is a very bad idea to guess at what someone else wants and try to change yourself to meet that just so that they'll like you. For one thing, lying is extremely time-and energy-intensive, to the point where successfully keeping up a relationship based on a lie is tantamount to having a job where you're on-call 24/7, and if you screw up not only are you fired with extreme prejudice, but your boss will throw all of your clothes and prized Star Trek memorabilia onto the front lawn in the middle of the night and tell everyone else you know embarrassing stories about your sexual performance, even if she has to make them up first. Every human being has an infinite number of personality traits, and you can pick and choose which ones you want to push up to the front when you talk to other people. Find some you think are awesome, and shove those into view when you ask her. It'll be nerve-wracking, but that's what you do.

Except they never say that. They just know someone said "be yourself" to them at some point, and who they're a happily married accountant who has two children and a dog and almost all of their original toes, so obviously that was the right thing to say. On what may or may not be an unrelated note, human beings are fucking terrible at cause-and-effect sometimes.

The ones you get while you're being bullied are worse. "They're just jealous."  The hell they are. I caught shit for being smart, and I am roughly 127% sure that the asshats harassing me did not want to think like I did any more than I wanted to think like they did. I know you're trying to make your kid feel a little better about himself by pointing out that he has a good quality, but children have been known to develop basic deductive and inductive reasoning skills -- sooner or later, he's going to figure out that you're either lying or completely clueless.

"Just ignore them." Oh christ. Never use this one. Ever. The logic here is that bullies are doing what they do for the satisfaction of knowing that they've hurt someone, and if you don't give it to them, you remove their motivation. The problem is that this is logic, and frankly, the logical ten-year-old is probably the one getting beaten up for her lunch money. Kids are savage little pricks who have no concept of going too far until you specifically teach them what that is. Yeah, in a best case scenario, not paying any attention to them makes you boring and they wander off, but mostly they don't. If they can't get a reaction from you they will keep doing things to you until they get a reaction from someone else, such as a teacher, a parent, or in truly dire cases, the fucking paramedics. So this whole 'ignore it' thing? Does not work and is dangerous. If you're getting mistreated in school, and the first person you tell says 'just ignore them', go tell someone else. Lather, rinse, repeat, until you find someone who has some motherfucking common motherfucking sense.

"Oh, you'll look back someday and realize that high school was the best time of your life." People used to tell me this as a teenager. I got it from the receptionist at my optometrist once, and distinctly remember thinking to myself, You know, I could argue with her, but if the best years of her life really were the ones where she spent the work week getting up early to put on a poorly-cast production of Lord of the Flies in a nondescript brick building, and the weekends begging someone's older brother to buy them generic beer, I don't think there's anything more I can do to her.


Oddly enough, they were right when they said it would get better as I got older. Life was much nicer once I could physically relocate myself away from the people who were giving me shitty advice.

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