One of the most striking things I have seen from the former US president Obama did, was this:
Being arguable the most important person, and the most scrutinised person probably in the whole world, I can only imagine the amount of comments, feedbacks, opinions, both sound and unfounded, both constructive and misguided, were thrown at him on a day to day basis.
We are a social animal, and oh are we social. We live in a society of fairy intelligent people that constantly monitor, observe, interact, and at times interfere each other. And that is a very good thing, we grow and learn and evolve as a species as such; if not for the peer monitoring mechanism, the court of law, and the sense of justice as we know it, wouldn’t really stick together.
But we are also living in an age where we are literally drowning in opinions, of all sorts, both the relevant, and the irrelevant kinds.
If you follow me anywhere else on social media you would recognise I am currently rocking a baby bump. This little work in progress has been an amazing journey so far. The amazing people, the encouragements and help, the feeling of oneness with the rest of society, or to a certain extend, history is enormous. That though, doesn’t come without some kind of drawback.
Oh the amount of advices one gets.
Look, I have seen this joke before. New parents emerges, people from your family, neighbour, the guy at Netto, old woman on the train, your hair dresser’s, your mum’s neighbour’s aunt’s physiotherapist all come out from the woodworks to give you very well intentioned, if at times, misinformed advices.
Just this morning I saw this mum to be captioning her baby belly picture with a list of what looks to be self empowerment captions. And to me, I know, that is it a pre-emptive (or post-emptive) warning to advice givers.
We have all been there in our lives right? You did a thing, seemingly harmless and logical to you, and then your neighbour comes out of his house, commenting how you should have put that box you wanted to put horizontally as suppose to vertically, something totally and utterly insignificant, but there you go, a piece of advice to get you through the day.
I get it, you want to help. You think you are trying to help.
Do you though? Are you really though?
I am from a culture that is filled with what I called “the elder’s advice”. From my family, my relatives, my mum’s neighbour, the guard who works in the building, my mum’s gym acquaintance to the lady who takes my order at breakfast. Everybody has a piece of advice to give.
And between “you should wash the seat before sitting down in a sauna”, to the “best combo you should order at breakfast to make the most bank for your buck”, to the “you shouldn’t lift heavy things such as your arms because this old lady’s neighbour’s daughter’s aunt had a miscarriage once 20 years ago because she lift her arms over head”. It is me, a cultureless, untamed, rebellious, or as they call, a “too westernised” monkey woman who refuses to listen.
It is my middle finger to this the absurd you must listen to whatever advice culture, it is my gigantic ego who in general tries its best to refuse to follow any slight hints of directions. I am not very good at taking these advices.
And the funny thing is, after time and time again of being the westernised monkey woman who doesn’t listen, these people often go to my mum to tell on me.
Let me paint you this picture:
Me, this 32 old woman, being told on, by elders to my parents, because I wouldn’t listen to their unsolicited advice.
With this happened time after time, I suddenly realise, ultimately they don’t care if the advice helps me.
Ultimately, it is not about wether or not this advice is helping, but the act of giving and receiving the advice itself.
How dare I to not respect their elder’s right to giving their society’s young a slither of their wisdom? How dare I disrespecting their experience of that one time that they didn’t do such and such and end up with such and such.
The funny thing is, this is not just in my culture, and it is not restricted to just people who have loads of experiences and wisdoms.
I have gotten the elder’s advice from over here, even from mum’s to be who is only 2 months, 3 months ahead of me.
What is up with this smirkness of “you are going to be know when you are at my stage”?
What is up with this I know better attitude even though we are literally going through this, equally new and for the first time together?
What is up with this firmness of “you shouldn’t do this, this is bad for your baby” when you have had one baby, 20 years ago, and no study of any relevant field at all?
What is up with our drive of having to know it all, having to have the simple, snappy answer to a perhaps much more complex problem?
What is up with our drive to give advices, even when we don’t know jack?
Maybe it is the same fear of being a teacher, having to admit I don’t know why this is happening to your body.
Maybe it is our fear or admitting ” I don’t know”. The fear of having to admit going through something, perhaps once, perhaps twice, perhaps even 20 times, or doing something for years, we still know very little.
I don’t know jack, and neither do you.
Perhaps it is time that we pat the dust off our shoulders, admit that we don’t know everything, and be content to carry on our merry lives.