...can be a blessing. Or a curse.
I have learned this during my fifty years. The hard way.
I have been pondering this topic as I go about my laundry and such this morning because of a blog post I read in the "HuffPo." I think it was written by a rather young woman. She looked young in her picture, at least. In her post, she addressed other young women who are trying to make their way in this wide world -- dispensing her good advice and wisdom for all to absorb.
By and large, I thought her advice was sound. It had to do with not wearing leggings without a top that fully covers your butt and how important first impressions are and all those kinds of wise career- and relationship-oriented things.
This is what struck me, though, as an older-type broad. If I was a young woman reading the advice of this other young woman, I would have been reduced to a great state of anxiety about my butt and my pants and the time I talked to that VIP with a wedgie I couldn't do anything about without making the situation more awkward. I would also be thinking about how many of the pants nowadays -- a.k.a. skinny jeans -- are really not a lot better than leggings. And I would be thinking about how these modern pants don't fit me well, anyway, because I have always had a rather Italian backside. And I would be thinking about all the times I had failed and flailed -- educationally, professionally, with people of the opposite sex in clubs -- and I would pretty much just be wanting to go sit in my comfy bed while watching my collection of "SouthLAnd" DVD's.
To sum it up, I was thinking about how women can be very hard on other women. Often without even realizing it. Often by just trying to be helpful. And I was thinking about how resentments and misunderstandings can build up between women because of well-meaning, but frequently unwelcome, advice.
As I said, I have learned this the hard way. Over the years, I have been the dispenser and receiver of all kinds of womanly advice. I have noticed the effect it has had on me and on others. And this is what I have figured out.
It is generally best not to give advice unless someone actually seeks it out from us. And if someone does seek it out, it is best to keep it to a minimum. It is wise to try to see the situation from the other person's perspective, instead of from our own. Our lives and personalities and experiences are not the same as those of the other person. And it is vital to be HUMBLE -- to realize that we as the advice-dispensers might not have all the answers, that we might even be (ahem) WRONG in our opinions.
Most importantly, though, in dealing with somebody who seeks our advice, it is important to listen and have compassion. Many times, people can work through their own problems. The majority of people probably have enough intelligence and common sense to see what the answers to their quandaries are, but it might be helpful for them to have a "sounding board," so to speak. And if we do feel the need to inject some of our "wisdom and experience" into a situation, we should look at the other person -- really see that person -- in order to discern what effect our words may be having. We need to ask ourselves if we are really being helpful, or if we are just adding to our friend's burden.
Finally, I would just like to reassure any young women who may be reading this post. You will recover from your youthful missteps. You will not ruin your career or a relationship (at least with anybody worth having a relationship with) if you accidentally flash your butt crack to a customer or shoot milk through your nostrils while laughing on a dinner date. When I think of some of the embarrassing things I did and said while working my first real jobs and going on my first real dates, I still kind of want to bury my head in the sand. But, life went on. And -- believe it or not -- bosses can be quite understanding to a new, yet promising, employee. And good guys will just -- good naturedly and with good humor -- hand you a napkin for your nose. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes. And to laugh at them, too. ;-)