I have learned a few things from a lifetime of being a Girl.
- Guys are right. We’re crazy. I have decided to embrace this part of myself and try to pass it off as “uniqueness” rather than fighting it. It’s going alright so far.
- We like to talk. Okay, that’s not accurate, I’m sorry. We love to talk.
- We like to fix things. Or at least try our darndest to. And I’m not talking about useful “things” like your transmission or your plumbing. I’m talking about other “things”: like your deep-rooted character issues, your most profound fears, or the Pile-of-Mess that is Your Feelings.
[Please note that these- and like statements throughout this post- are observations about patterns I’ve noticed, not universal, gender-exclusive truths that are set in stone. Okay? Great. Moving on.]
Because Talking and Fixing Things play so nice together, people like to come to us girls for advice. And more often than not, we jump at the chance to flex our highly attuned nurturing muscles. “What can I do?” “How can I help?” “Can I pray for you?” “I’ll be right over with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s for each of us!” We are all-too-ready to dive in with a solution. There is absolutely nothing wrong with following this impulse tactfully. People- no matter what their chromosomal makeup- need each other and need advice.
I am comforted not only when I know I have received good advice, but when I know I have given counsel that comforts or spurs on someone I care about. But I had an epiphany recently. And not the pleasant kind, the nagging, annoying kind. it’s been bugging me ever since. There is a striking similarity between the answers I give and the answers I seek.
Thus begging the question: why can’t I take my own advice?
I cannot tell you how many times I have said things like “Why would you like someone who doesn’t like you?” or “Maybe you should set smaller, more attainable goals for yourself”, or “Get a job, hippie!” and thought- “Hey, that was really profound. I wish I could think like that.” Of course I do think like that. But I can’t seem to connect the dots. I have a head full of stars, but no constellations.
Last night, I had a head full of medicine, food, and drink, and none of it was mixing very well. I had far too much on my mind, and was feeling particularly Out of It. As soon as I settled in, I got a message from a friend who I hadn’t heard from in ages. He asked for help. He was having a crisis of faith. And having had my fair share of those myself, we were able to talk through some things. I was remarkably calm, cool and collected. Even though, just an hour or two before, I had told someone “I just feel like I don’t know which way is up”.
I think being incapable of taking our own advice is a distinctly human problem. Everyone grapples with it. But why?
Well, for one: nothing tastes quite like humble pie. Life is a parade of lessons in humility for those who are paying the slightest bit of attention. So perhaps all those little ironies are just, um, teaching opportunities.
Then there is the encouragement we get from taking someone else from a not-so-good place to a better one. Perhaps those same moments- those same character exercises- can remind us that no matter how low we feel like we are, we can always reach up to help someone elsee.