I’ve made it to the ripe old age of 33 by surviving some truly awful, terrible, no good, very bad stuff. Younger friends of mine love to remind me I’m “an old” by describing me with words like experienced, wise, learned, wizened, sorceress, and crone.

Here are my top pieces of Unsolicited Advice that you will never take from me, but should:

  1. If a person tells you something about you, but won’t tell you who said it? They are saying it. To you. Right now. You picking up what I’m laying down, sport? Okay. Moving on.
  1. Listen to your gut: If someone or something gives you a bad feeling, listen to what your intuition tells you. We have ways of understanding that go beyond the conscious mind, and those gut assumptions are more often right than wrong. If EVERYTHING gives you a bad feeling, you may just need therapy.
  1. Get the garbage out: Go to therapy and pick up a Julia Cameron book. Sometimes you need a place to say the worst things that go through your mind to save someone who cares about you from having to hear it. Julia Cameron’s work focuses on free-writing three pages every morning, to get the cobwebs before you start your day.
  1. The questions you don’t ask are the most important. If you walk around thinking you know every answer, you will never engage with the joy of discovery and the subtle thrill of being gladly mistaken. While stubbornness can be valuable in many situations, exploring how and why you make certain assumptions is a direct path towards growth.
  1. People show you who they are almost right away; it’s up to you to decide if you are going to put up with it. Most people who thrive in unhealthy relationships can be very convincing that they will change, but they probably won’t. Even if they do change, there is just as much likelihood that it will be in a way you don’t like than in one you do. A perfect example: My friend’s over-the-top, melodramatic alcoholic partner who did change. They stopped drinking and cleaned up their act. Unfortunately they then became an over-the-top, melodramatic fundamentalist Christian. A leopard may grow, but it never changes its spots.
  1. A relationship will end the way it starts, for better or for worse. If you are bored on the first date, you will probably be really bored by the time you break up with them. If a client is a pain in the ass on Monday they will still be a pain in the ass on Friday. If your mom was scared of you getting hurt when you were a baby, she is probably still scared of you getting hurt. Etc.

Any six of these points should be vague enough to apply to any and all situations, which I’m slowly learning is the way to become a charismatic cult leader or just have people agree with you a lot. I hope you agree with me, because otherwise, I don’t like you. Agree with me? We are meant to be (friends, not anything else, I’m taken, GOD…I think we need some space).