Why I don’t give advice.
(Even though I used to give advice for a living.)
Having been through some unfortunate crap over the years, personally and professionally, I like being able to help my friends when they need help… but I really don’t have much good practical advice to give, it turns out. So I’ve been thinking about advice that I can give, even though much of it is not applicable to most other people. Here’s some of it:
I don’t mean buy things when they’re on sale and the store is telling you that you’ll save money (or, worse, that “the more you buy, the more you’ll save!”). I mean actually save it. Put it in a bank account where it will be if and when you need it, like if you lose your job and it takes you six months to get a new job.
Do not spend 8–10 hours a day for 5 days each week, for 50 weeks each year working at a job that makes you miserable.
You’ve heard the saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Well, that’s crap. Maybe that works out for one person in a million; the rest of us have to work at jobs that we don’t love. But there’s a big difference between having a job you don’t love and one that you hate. I’ve had jobs I hated, working for people I hated. And when I left those jobs, the relief I felt was indescribable. Indescribably good, I mean. (Note: I am a professional describer now.)
Marry your best friend and make the best damned kid in the whole world.
I’ve probably given my friends the dual impression that I (a) enjoy baking and (b) am good at it. I do not, and I am not. Baking is a messy, irritating, frustrating, inefficient activity, and when you’re done you might have something good to eat, but you will definitely have many things to clean. That you and much of your kitchen will be covered in flour is the only certainty in baking. That said, it can be meditative — the dishwashing especially, in fact — and, again, you might end up with cookies, brownies, a pie, pretzel rolls, or a pizza.
Do not let your hobbies become chores.
I write. Sometimes I write a lot. The other day, I realized that in just the past four years, I’ve written something like 130 short humor pieces, about a wide variety of topics. Some of these pieces have been published; some earned me some money. Most of the pieces live on my own website, because they were rejected, typically by more than one editor each. But while I wrote each one hoping that it would be published, I didn’t write any expecting that it would be published, and certainly not expecting that I’d get paid for it, because writing humor (and fiction, for that matter, which I’ve also done and might do again in the future) is my hobby, not my job, and when it feels like a job, I don’t do it, because then I don’t have a hobby anymore, and I damned sure don’t want two jobs. One job is enough, thanks. So if there’s something you love doing, maybe don’t make it your life’s work, because there’s a good chance you’ll come to hate it, and then you’ll have nothing to make you happy.
Good beer. If you’re not in college and you drink beer, but you don’t have a favorite beer, then you’re doing it wrong. If you think about getting a beer but don’t think about getting a specific beer, you need to rethink your position on beer. I have a favorite beer. My favorite beer has been my favorite beer since I first tried it, some 10 years ago, when it was a brand new beer sold in, like, five places. I wrote an email to the brewer, in Scotland, and told him that I loved his beer and hoped I’d be able to enjoy it for years to come. He wrote back and thanked me. Ten years later, my life is completely different, but I’m still enjoying my favorite beer.
I have some other thoughts, but I think I’ll just end on the beer.