Recognizing limitations, expectations key when giving, getting advice

Advice: the fleeting attempt of one to engage and imagine the problem of another with clarity, and provide an immediate, not-before-realized epiphany.

The dictionary would likely offer a more official definition, but applied to my life, the above fit. Recently, I’ve been meditating on the culture and complexity of advice: how we give it, how we receive it and the action-centric nature of it.

Accompanied often by, “What do I do?” the act of providing and requesting advice strikes me as irrational for several reasons. The prevalence of that corresponding question suggests its innate impulsivity.

Frequently, I turn to family or friends not for advice regarding a major hitch in my mentality toward something, but for a quick fix — a tangible action that will immediately remedy a complicated problem.

And when friends or family ask me for advice, I typically assume I’m one step to closer to an illusive sense of enlightenment. I am a pseudo-adult, after all. They trust me with that anxiety-laden next action; therefore, I am wise.

Yet, I recall the advice sessions of my teenage years and realize, to my chagrin, little has changed.

For teenage Taylor, an advice session began with a friend recapping her latest, drawn-out dating woe (interspersed with pauses to text the “love of her life,” clearly) in a breathless span of a minute.

And with that knowledge, the other friends were expected to deliver an articulate solution in another minute or two (we had important things to do, after all, like Facebook stalk the cute, new kid who moved to Newton from Florida or somewhere equally exotic).

Though my problems have grown more complex and more significant in the long-term, I admit I still expect the irrational from advice. I expect a perfect fix in little time.

With more difficult decisions headed my way, rather than exclaiming, “What do I do?” in panic, I’ll contemplate and, if needed, change a deeply ingrained mentality that may provide a more permanent, powerful fix for my problem.

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