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Five pieces of advice that do more harm than good


By Isabelle Laureta

They say kids are just like sponges because they absorb and learn everything they see, but 20somethings like us are no different, especially when it comes to life advice. We take what we can get. We’re basically just kids in an adult bodysuit who are slightly better at going to the potty. It’s why we go crazy about online articles like “N Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 25.”

Not all life advice is helpful though, no matter how neatly packaged they may be. Sometimes, they do more harm than good and, other times, they’re just plain delusional and insensitive. So speaking of life advice, here is mine: Stay away from the ones listed below, whether you’re at the giving or receiving end.


1. ‘Drop everything and do what you’re passionate about.’

When it comes to vision, dreams, and passion, people our age are like toddlers who ate way too much candy—we’re so energetic in talking about it and we go to certain lengths in making it happen. I’m all about chasing dreams and turning them into reality. But to drop everything? Really? In an ideal world, yeah, sure. But here on earth where privileged kids are often rewarded more regardless of talent or passion, you might need to stop and think before making your next move. “All you need is passion, and you’re good to go,” they say.  Yes, passion should be the heart of everything you do, but it, alone, won’t take you as far as the realization of your hopes and dreams. Let’s be realistic here: You need money, connections, and the right timing if you want your life to turn out the way you envisioned it to be. So maybe plan these things first before dropping everything.

2. ‘Forgive and forget.’

I’ve been wronged many times in the past and in different levels of intensity. Did I forgive these people who have wronged me terribly? Yes. I recommend it. And trust me, it’s a great anti-aging routine. But did I forget what they did to me? No. Am I cruel? Maybe. But only because I want to protect myself from going through the same crap all over again. When we realize that we hurt other people, intentionally or not, we go through the process of learning from our mistakes and being careful next time. The same thing happens to those we’ve hurt, but instead of being careful with their actions, they become more careful with carrying their hearts on their sleeves. Because sometimes, being cold is necessary to protect oneself from further harm. It’s only logical to do so.

3. ‘It’s useless to worry. Keep calm.’

Worrying is like that leafy garnish on top of the steak you ordered at a fancy restaurant. It’s that fragrant stalk you put at the side of your plate so you can enjoy your meal. Did you really need that garnish? No, of course not. But was it useless? Certainly not. I worry all the time about the littlest of things and I kick myself in the butt because I wish I didn’t, but I don’t think I can do without worrying either. Because if anything, it makes me more aware of the things that may go wrong, which in turn makes me more prepared. We’re only human and worrying is only one of the flaws that make us beautiful, much like the garnish on that fancy plate. Be careful, though, because too much of the garnish might cause you to lose focus on what’s on the plate, if you know what I’m saying.

4. ‘Don’t complain. Things could be worse.’

When people say this to you, they’re not trying to lighten your load. They’re invalidating your feelings and concerns. “Oh, you lost your job? Just be thankful you’re not one of the people who die of dehydration because they don’t have access to clean water.” I mean, yeah, I get that one problem is heavier than the other, but that doesn’t make the lighter, “tinier” problem not a problem. It may not be a concern to one person, but it may be weighing the world down for the other. It’s only right to use your head when dealing with problems (whether it’s your own or not), but it’s also equally important to use your heart and practice some empathy.

5. ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’

Not only is this scientifically inaccurate, but it’s also reckless and lazy. If you’re going to shoot for something as big and as out-of-this-world as the “moon,” then might as well make damn well sure you’re going to land there. Do everything in your power to do so instead of finding assurance in the idea of a second option. And if you miss, then you can try again. Never settle for the stars if what you really want is the moon.

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