There are so many people who are willing to jump into a situation parroting advice that we’ve all heard a thousand times. Advice that works sometimes but far from always. And is often useless in the most challenging scenarios.
If I’m complaining about something, it means that I’ve made every basic attempt to solve the issue. At the point that I become weary, I’ve exhausted commonsense measures, done research, and consulted experts in my network for anything I might have missed.
By the time I complain, it’s become clear that none of the fixes are easy, quick, or good.
And when I complain, I’m not looking for anything. I’m more giving other people a heads up that I’m not doing so hot. Not because I need anything additional from them but because I want them to understand what’s happening if I’m acting funny or am more absentminded than normal.
That’s it honestly. That’s usually the reason I tell people that I’m having a hard time.
If I need something specific, I don’t complain in public to a large group of people. Instead, I go to specific people for help.
I’m pretty straightforward that way. I don’t have a problem asking for help. And I’m pretty good at knowing where to look for it. I tend to inform people more broadly of my struggles once all that legwork has been done, not before.
My favorite people all get this. Still, a few people I know don’t. And they’re more likely to jump in with advice that doesn’t make sense, won’t work, and is just plain annoying. This behavior is well meaning, I know. It’s usually due to a desire to fix, to help, to be useful somehow.
And I get that. But sometimes the biggest gift you can give someone is trusting that they know what they’re doing.
And as time goes on, I find I do have fewer people in my life who are prone to giving lots of basic unsolicited advice. And instead, I find my close circle populated with more people who know that I will ask if I want help — and that I will definitely directly ask if I want help specifically from them.
And I know progressively more people who are good about saying, “Yes, this is difficult, and there are no easy answers, but I am going to be here with you while you figure it out.”
I have a giant soft spot for anyone who can honor both the size of the challenge and the scope of my strength.