No, Thank You. Peddle your advice to someone else!

I guess a majority of us have really never understood why the legal average age limit was set at 18, like at 18 years of age you can marry, get kids, move (d) out, drink alcohol, smoke. This is the age all men (it’s always them) sat in barazas across the globe and settled on it to be the right age to be thrown in a jail full of 40 year olds, it is also the age they decided, you know what? fuck this dryspell shit, it’s also about that time we got ourselves wives, or what do you guys think? one of them asked. And they all answered in unison, “Yeeeees Master.” And one lanky fellow in the crowd after a few seconds, “Then we can add another one after 2 years.” And they roared with laughter.

Ok, ignore that last part. Point is at the age of 18 and above we are considered to be adults who can make sober decisions, grownups who can decide whom to friend and whom not to. However this is also the age we solicit and most of the time get unwarranted advice from all quarters. You will be advised on which college to attend, what major to take, whom to be friend, whom to have babies with, what kind of foods to take, which political wing to align yourself with, whom to vote for……

But do we necessarily have to consume all the pieces of advice we are thrown our way, I think not. You see giving advice is easy. People are full of opinions, and we love nothing more than to share them with others. It gives us a chance to talk about ourselves: our opinions are largely based on personal experiences, emotions, and values. Yet, how many of us actually do the work required to hold a certain view?

Be wary about who you take advice from.

When literally anyone can give you advice, it should be expected that the overall quality of advice given is extremely low. Unfortunately, the people we tend to take the most advice from is our close circle of friends and family, who are often the least qualified to provide it. Like how many of us ended up being teachers, and very bad at it, simply because your pastor-uncle advised you? You wouldn’t take computer advice from a plumber, so why take farming tips from your buddy who has spent his life selling bundles mwitu?

The people that give you advice may say they have your best intentions in mind, but the truth is that it’s often the best in their mind. It’s so they can happily gloat to their friends what their son or daughter does for a living. It is the choice that they themselves would make, given their hopes, dreams, aspirations, anxieties, and risk tolerance. Nevertheless, we tend to trust these people the most.

The friends and family group is also the most biased. They attempt to point you in a direction they would like to see you go, rather than where you would like to see yourself go. They are secretly manipulating you, consciously or not. And if you continuously follow their advice, you will eventually wind up living someone else’s life instead of your own.

How often have you heard or come across trained lawyers who are eking a living out writing? Or the medical student that gives up 12 years of his life to satisfy his parents? The investment banker who hates the job but stays for the prestige?

Most people simply don’t like to see others succeed. If a person doesn’t fit the mold of what he or she should be, it threatens the status quo. Change is scary. It brings people to question their own ideals, their routines, their life. It makes them feel small. And so the ever popular advice “be realistic” was coined, to push these outliers back to the sphere of convention and mundane.

However don’t get it twisted, certain advice can be helpful. Like, when someone tells you don’t do drugs or don’t be like a Kenyan politician or don’t be a Manchester United fan. Nevertheless be selective in the advice you take. Listen to those who have the necessary real world experience, who fully understand your situation, who carefully listen to you, and who share the same values.

You can also just take the leap. Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission and lead your life for you.

Be a bit like Tom Cruise.

I don’t really keep counsel with others. I’m the kind of person who will think about something, and if I know it’s right I’m not going to ask anybody. I don’t go, ‘Boy, what do you think about this?’ I’ve made every decision for myself—in my career, in my life. – Tom Cruise

It’s your life.