Well-meaning advice. I get it. It’s nice to feel like you’re helping someone else. Sharing wisdom. Contributing to society. It’s gratifying to talk about your experiences and try to tease out insights from your very individual experience that might help someone else. Warm fuzzies, and all that.
No matter if the advice was unsolicited, or entirely irrelevant, or imparted from a position of privilege that makes it very hard to generalise, it’s the thought that counts, right?
Surviving your twenties is apparently something that requires a lot of well-intentioned advice. As a 26-year-old woman, I’ve never really thought of my existence as something that has to be ‘survived’ or endured, but then I’m in my twenties… so what would I know?
Not nearly as much as people older than me, obviously. Like Kate Hawkesby, who believes that we twenty-somethings should “wear the bikini” and “get into a momentum of positive energy” so that we can “ride with more vitality through the shit the world may throw as [us].” We should also “eat clean” and “try to remember, we are what we eat.” Presumably so that we can keep wearing the bikini. Twenties survival 101.
Or Mike Hosking, who counsels that we should “get a deposit for a house as quickly as [we] can” and if we don’t, “then don’t whine that it’s unaffordable.” Because everyone knows that deposits for houses are super easy to come by in the middle of a housing crisis. Anyone who can’t “get” a deposit for an overvalued house miles away from anywhere must simply be a lazy whiner.
Or Reese Witherspoon, whose sage advice is that “the ignorance of youth is bliss.”
The thing about unsolicited advice (as opposed to advice that is actually sought out from those with legitimate experience who we trust and respect) is that it is a close friend of condescension. They’re such good buddies that it can be hard to disentangle one from the other, but some people do manage it. Some even manage to give universalised advice that is kind of heartening to hear.
Like Angelina Jolie, who suggests that we should, “make bold choices and make mistakes - it’s all those things that add up to the person you later become.”
And Antonia Prebble, who would tell her younger self that, “it’s all going to be okay. Life has a funny way of unfolding in the exact manner that it should.”
And Miley Cyrus, whose simple “this too shall pass” could be a mantra for any age.
But regardless of what celebrities say, when it comes to “surviving” our everyday existence, the real experts are… us. Because our twenties are happening and we are “surviving” them – muddling through, and living our lives as we see fit – every single day.