They (yes, they) say that those who can’t, teach. Well I can’t. I’m a mess. I make terrible decisions and ruin everything. I’m not the kind of sorted person who should be dispensing advice to anyone. Except I do, all the time. I can’t let someone tell me a problem without racking my brains for a solution. It doesn’t matter if I am completely ignorant of their problem. I dive in anyway. I do it automatically, I’m barely even conscious of it, until I realise what I’m doing and try to backtrack and plead ignorance. It’s a filthy habit. It doesn’t matter what the subject is- directions to some place I’ve never been, help removing a stain I’ve never removed, advice on a kind of relationship I don’t understand or how to dismantel a couch I’ve never seen. I start talking and presume I’m helping, and forget entirely that the other person is just sharing their problem, and knows more people than just me, and so can probably obtain much better advice on this matter which is completely alien to me.
I want to put a stop to it, I really do, but I enjoy giving advice. It makes me feel powerful and like I have all the tools to be super successful, if only circumstances would align themselves nicely. Quickly coming up with a simple solution to your friend’s problem says, if those were your problems, you’d have them sorted out in a jiffy. It’s a big old “Fuck you, I’d do a much better job of your life” and that’s why I have to stop.
Saying that, advice is not all bad. Advice when you know what you’re talking about is helpful and usually welcome. The reason I keep getting into trouble is that, like many egocentric assholes, I’m only ever pretending to listen and am only ever thinking about myself. I’m not hearing how you feel about your troubles, I’m hearing how I would feel if that happened to me, and what I would do. I want you to get over it because talking to you is depressing me, so I want to give you my solution, I want you to be impressed and I want to move on to talking about something I want to talk about. I suppose it could also be some sort of need for people to grade me on my problem solving skills, after enjoying the praise of so many teachers as a child, and then going absolutely fucking nowhere in life. Oh depressing thoughts, fuck off.
I’m just not a people person. I appear to be one, because I’m loud and confident, and don’t appear to be bothered by shame and unwanted attention. But I don’t like people. I like some people very much indeed, but the incomprehensible mass of extras in my life… I don’t have any time for. Conversation drives me crazy, because most people I have to talk to are boring as hell. I get too impatient when someone else is talking, so my mind starts running through possible things for me to say in response, as soon as it’s my happy turn to speak again. I hate that I can’t just say whatever I want. I have to be seen to listen, and transition smoothly between their lines and mine, or else I’ll be revealed for what I am (an uncaring dick). So I let a few bits and pieces of what they’re saying register and spend the rest of the time trying to make what they just said relevant to what I want to say.
Sometimes an amazing anecdote is prepped and ready to leave my mouth, when the speaker directs our conversation elsewhere. My story is now stale and off topic. I can’t use it now. I might try anyway, but then I have to nod wisely, look thoughtful and interested, like what they said has left me with something to ponder later. Move to make coffee or tea or have a cigarette. When sufficient pause has been left, I can then interject as if it just occured to me, “oh, you know what I just remembered?” and then my story can come out. That’s how I make it feel right, by using the lull, letting the boring topic I didn’t like die on its own and then save the awkward silence with my brilliant contribution.
I wonder if I’m a complete freak here, or if I’m just being honest about something that people don’t like to mention, like masturbation or smelling socks to see if they are clean.