What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

Looking back, there’s one heck of a lot of bad advice in life – and that’s only counting the pieces of advice we don’t have quite enough sense (or enough self-confidence?) to ignore at the time.  Not even talking about fortune cookies, here, or the bright ideas your Facebook friends can come up with for you to do.

Here’s some of the Really Bad Advice from out of my dusty past:

“Go ahead, you can eat it.”

~ my older sister, when we were kids;

“When you go over the pommel horse, you should try to tuck into a shoulder roll.”

~ Janet the Jock, 4th grade gym;

“Just shave off your eyebrows and draw them back in – it’s faster than plucking.”

~ Penny the Prom Queen in Training, high school freshman year;

“Don’t marry this guy. You’ll be bored.”

~ an ex-boyfriend, speaking of He Who Hogs The Power Tools…

You get the idea.

But then there’s also all the bits of advice that are not actually bad, but they’re not necessarily helpful at all times…

Example: as I’ve mentioned before, my mother’s advice in case of any kind of heartbreak and distress – from a misplaced phone bill to the break-up of a relationship – was always the same:

“Take a deep breath and have a nice cup of tea. You’ll feel better.”

Okay, there’s good sense in Mother’s standard advice: deep breathing does help to chill out the flight-or-flight instinct that’s our human response to stress, and the routine of brewing and sipping that comforting hot beverage is, well, a comfort as well as a distraction. However, there are just some things in life that can’t be fixed so easily – and no, a meditative cuppa doesn’t always make you “feel better” about a crisis in progress.

But I digress.

The very worst piece of advice I’ve ever been given?


You can’t be a writer – unless you go into journalism, of course. There’s just no way to make a steady living at any other kind of writing. Train for a real job, instead, and you can write for pleasure on the side – or do your writing when you retire.”

Wrong-oh,  Mr. High School Guidance Counsellor!

And if you consider all the monumentally stupid things I’ve done in my life – following bits of advice that my Inner Voice and Common Sense reared up against in horror (to no avail) –  I’m eternally grateful for managing to get up the gumption to ignore that particular piece of career advice, doled out by an unimaginative polyester-clad dillweed drone in horn-rimmed specs, and pursue a freelance writing career.

Because you just know that a “real job” would’ve just about killed me!  :)

So, it’s your turn now –

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
(And did you follow it?)

Photo credit: Career advice

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Domestik Goddess

    Oh, I hear ya, Ken – that’s a blame-the-victim attitude if ever I heard one: funny how no one ever told the bullies about that “rule” of fair play!

  2. Ken M.

    The words of my mother, “Don’t let them know they are bothering you, and they will leave you alone.”

    All that got me was the capacity to absorb a colossal load of crap!

  3. Susie Kline

    You can make money writing?! How?

    I love this! We have all gotten some spectacularly bad advice!

    xo Susie

  4. traci

    You know, reading your mom’s tea advice makes me think of some of the things family has said to me in those times when I am upset: Are you PMS?

    I HATE when my girl-family asks that. 1) Because it is so undermining of my feelings and 2) the answer is usually yes. And that makes me angrier.

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