Thursday, January 14, 2010

Advice [Question of the Day]

Funny how timely this question is...

A lot of people turn to me for advice. Well, they turn to me as a confidante, and they get sympathy and advice packaged together. Occasionally they also get verbally smacked, because I get upset when I think someone I love is going to do something stupid. So who are these lots of people? My sister; my almost twin (who is coming to visit me! yay!), and sometimes the third in that trio; my other self, the boys across the hall (practically brothers), the boyfriend, the gay boy who was and is my first friend here; my accountability/hiking/breakfast/MPPC buddy; and at least a couple other girl friends here at school.

I suppose I don't really know how many of them turn to me for the purpose of getting advice. But if they listen to my advice and thank me for it, I think that counts.

I give advice on boy / girl situations, on what makes a good relationship (or really, on what things I know make for a bad relationship: process of elimination...); on finding peace, on hearing from God; on what classes to take, on what major to choose, or on how to choose a major; on resolving arguments, on getting along with parents; on reading the Bible, on forming habits, on praying; on cooking; on working in a group; on books to read. I give advice about staying sane, about pausing, about looking for perspective, about stepping back. I give advice on living with pain, on letting go of guilt, on looking for joy.

And really, it's not so much advice as it is sharing my experiences. I try to tell people the reactions that I have experienced and observed so they have some more data without conducting the experiments themselves... Of course, the variables are different for everyone, but some of the conditions are invariably the same. We're all human, after all.

Is giving advice part of my job? Depends what you mean by "job." It's not part of being a student (which I suppose is my job, since it's my task right now; technically I'm even being paid for it). It's not part of being a research assistant, that's for sure, since I haven't a clue what I'm doing. Giving advice isn't in the job description for anything I'm getting paid for or graded on.

But I think the most important "job" I can do right now is being a friend. I want to be the kind of friend that you don't just watch movies with, but the kind you exchange ideas and books with. But more than that, I want to be the kind of friend who knows your life and whose life you know. And more than that: I want to be the kind of friend who knows your joys and struggles and hopes and fears... I want to be the kind of friend who can say "I see you" the way they say it in "Avatar": I see into you. I know you.

And so advice is part of my job--my calling? my place in life? my mission?

But it's certainly not the important part. The part that matters isn't the advice I give so much as the relationships that put me in situations where my advice is wanted and (I hope) useful. It's not the view I see from the mountaintop that matters, because I could see pictures of that view or an IMAX rendition of it and get the same images. What matters is the fact that I'm actually on the mountain, the journey and the destination that put me in a place to be able to see the view. It would be good to be there on the mountain even if I were blind, even if the clouds covered the landscape.

No comments: