People love giving advice on what they think you should do. I come from a loud and proud Greek family, so believe me, I know this to be very true. But sometimes, advice can also mask itself as judgement, based on the values a person has and thinks you should have too. This can be especially hard when you grow up in a certain environment, only to find yourself growing away from it and moving into something different. To throw a spanner into the works, you find yourself lost amongst different groups within this environment. For your reading pleasure, I have separated these and will list below.
1- ‘The people that know you’ aka FAMILIA
Nothing is more irritating and comforting at the same time, than knowing you have people behind you to back your decisions, and to also confront you when they think you are doing something that’s uncharacteristic. They have watched you evolve, fill out a little and believe they hold the blue print to your inner workings; the only people that can say they really know who you are. The problem with this, is that we don’t stay the same and when you’re learning new things and evolving, it can feel as though you’re being self-contained in the same bubble they would like to keep you in. And it’s not so they can sabotage your own personal development, it’s because having a child move away from the ideals you passed on to them, can be scary as hell. They worry that you’ll become less than what you’re capable of, that they won’t recognise the child that was always so visible to them.
2- ‘The people that have your back’ aka FRIENDS
Even when communication isn’t daily, it’s undeniable that whenever something is going down, you know you can let it all out with a close friend and feel supported. They are the people that know your history, know about the fuk-boys you dated and can advise you whether or not you are about to date another one. This is the kind of relationship where you don’t ever feel the need to hide or cover up, because they have seen you at your worst and will still have the time to tag you in relentless memes. Where friendships can be problematic in self-growth, is when you realise that you no longer have the exact same vision for your lives. Suddenly, what you consider your five year plan (ok maybe 6 month plan), is so incredibly different to the one they tell you over wine and dinner. You know you’re the same people, but now you want different things and life isn’t so carefree as it was when you were 13 and had hours to talk on the phone. The concern here, is that in search for yourself, you have gotten lost in your tribe. The people that you recognised as your own, seem better suited to other people now.
3- ‘The people that you sort of know’ aka ACQUAINTANCES
Don’t you just love it when people you see maybe once a month, if that, can feel so well versed in the workings of your life that they can give you advice? These are people who think they have an idea of who you are, a vague one at that. Based on their own mis-judgements when they were your age, or missed opportunities, they see their conversations with you as a way to fill you in on the all the ways you can live without having regrets. Despite my tone, they mean well, they really do. Maybe they see a spark or flicker of potential in you, and want to see you succeed. It still irritates you though, because their advice feels like an added weight on your shoulders, cramming in more loud chatter to the inner-dialogue constantly running through your head.
My bottom line in all of this is that people will always have an opinion, and if you’re particularly neurotic like I am, you will assume it revolves around what you’re doing. The thing is, if you let everyone in, you will begin to listen to the voices in your head or rather become paralysed by them, unable to work out which one is your own.
Of course listen to your family, because they are family after all, and will always be looking out for your betterment not your demise. Don’t get angry when their advice seems outdated or no longer applies to you, in their eyes you will always be the same person. If you live with your parents, maybe it’s time to move out or if you don’t, maybe it’s time to channel your energy into making your relationship work in a new dynamic.
Realise that we all change in some way, and at the core of every friendship is a foundation built from a kind of trust and shared history that can never be replicated. If you feel like you need a new tribe to vibe with, then find hobbies that correlate with your interests because you will be sure to find like-minded people there. This isn’t a way of replacing friends, it’s just about making room for new people in your life which is always an essential part of growing. If you can support yourself in this way and become more content, you will be sure to be a better friend to old ones and new ones.
Now maybe you think tying to satisfy a stranger or acquaintances opinion may be a waste of time, but I think you are very wrong. Instead of being agreeable and letting your ego get the best of you, be confident in your own path the choices you are yet to make. If someone can notice you enough to feel the need to make an informed opinion, then you’re worthy enough of paying attention to. Don’t feel the need to get defensive either, and make light of whatever situation you’re talking about. If you have enough conviction in what you’re doing, then that’s enough to make others believe it too.
So next time someone tells you that you should be living overseas, you should be working in a certain industry and you should be doing this or not, just be really still. Listen to what someone is telling you, but not enough that you don’t pay attention to that small inner voice. This is the one that tells you what it is you really want and believe me, it’s worth tuning in to.