Last week was an unusually trying week for me. It seemed I had a lot of people, both professionally and personally, try me. It all was seemingly under the guise of ‘help.’
Even when I graciously declined one friend’s offer of help, she was insistent that I misunderstood her (I didn’t) and she really wanted to help (she wanted to criticize).
You see, a lot of people love to give advice (me included). Who doesn’t like offering people advice in terms of love, relationships, careers, and life?
But sometimes the advice isn’t warranted. Sometimes, we just need to shut up.
What happens when you’re trying to help…but really, you’re just interfering?
On the professional side, I’m writing a YA book. It’s my first-ever one. I’m nervous and excited about it. It seemed a lot of people are interested in it and a lot of my real life friends want to help with it (becoming beta readers, giving me character ideas, etc.).
And then…I had a couple of people who really weren’t trying to help, but rather, interfere.
One beta reader didn’t like I had a gay character and without actually saying it, she wanted me to get rid of the biracial girl character who was in a relationship with a white guy and put the gay character (a black female) with him instead.
Read that over again just so you can understand the boldness of the person who suggested it.
Why did she make the suggestion? I have no idea, nor do I care. But it was rather telling she wanted me to rewrite an entire story to appease her. (Don’t worry, I have no intention of using her ever again).
Then I had a family member interfering with our car issue. We have a situation where we can either temporarily fix our car and drive it until we have enough money for a new one, or just get a new car completely. I was on board for the first option while it occurred to me the family member was really pushing the second option and rather quietly (and boldly).
It really upset me because the family member has known about my car issues for a while and has known I was trying to save up money for a sizable down payment for a new one. Yet, no offers to help with said down payment. The family member also didn’t try to help with any current financial offers on the current car. No researching on repair shops, or having to call someone to make a house visit. Everything solely relied on me, but the easy part, now that’s where they stepped in.
Car expenses are not cheap. From buying one to maintenance to gas to whatever is needed, it’s not cheap at all. A lot of money is going into something that depreciates each time it’s driven. The last time I bought a car was 2006 and before that was 2001, so when I have a car, I tend to keep it for a while.
And again, I had someone make a decision for me that really had nothing to do with them at all because guess who’s paying for any car expenses? Yours truly. That family member will never pay a dime.
It’s the other side of helping that a lot of people don’t want to admit – maybe you’re butting in when you should be stepping back. Someone asks for advice, and you give it. Or someone is having some difficulty with something, and you offer to help. Then something happens – line, and usually unbeknownst to the person giving, is crossed. Then what?
I know because I’ve done this (and probably will do this in the future). Not to mention, I’ve had it done to me all last week by a variety of people.
This post reminds me of the famous saying, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it.’ It really applies here. At what point is the advice just done and at what point is the advice above and beyond?
When people are offering to help, I have to wonder what are they actually offering?
For example, when someone suggests you should lose weight, are they offering you gym recommendations? Are they giving you healthy recipes to try? Are they offering to pay for a personal trainer? Or are they just upset you put on some weight and they don’t like it?
When someone asks you for financial tips, are you recommending they talk to a financial advisor? Are you giving them money-saving tips that’s worked for you? Are you giving them examples of what you did to achieve your goals?
Again, are you trying to help? If so, how is the help you’re offering benefitting the other person? Is it something you are sure it will benefit the other person? Or are you hoping it will and they won’t become salty?
Last week was hard for me. From having pushy friends to realizing the relationship I have with Bear’s godparents is pretty one-sided (that was a shitty realization), to having people control an aspect that honestly has nothing to do with them, it seemed I was attacked from all sides.
As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I really felt a slip back into those states. It’s really easy when you have one bad day and you can shake it off the next. When you have a bad week, it can be tough to get out of.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I did it. I did drink a few glasses of wine so that definitely helped, lol. Meditating every night really worked magic. I also think a big part was my mindset. I did allow myself to get angry, hurt, sad, and confused by what happened but I didn’t dwell on it. Many of the events made me upset for a day and the next, I was over it (which honestly in hindsight, I’m rather glad that happened. Can you imagine if I dwelled one thing while the others occurred? OMG).
My unwarranted advice to you when someone is trying to help, but really they’re not – be gracious with their offer, but don’t feel you have to utilize it if you know it won’t benefit you. And you don’t even have to tell them why.
It’s your life; live it how you feel it’s best.