I have seen many lists circulating the internet lately about the pros and cons of when and how to make important life choices, especially when and if to marry or have kids. While I certainly could create my own list defending the choices I have made, I think it might be better to focus on a list of the reasons why you should and shouldn’t listen to all the advice out there.
You shouldn’t listen to advice, stories, lists, or blogs, because
Everyone creates opinions based on their own “stuff”, experiences, knowledge, ignorance, etc.
When we take advice from someone without knowing what stuff they come with, we are taking advice blindly. I may know some things, like that this person did or didn’t do this or that, and that these are the reasons they cite for that choice. However, there is a lot more that I DON’T know… I don’t know how they were raised, what news they watch, what knowledge they have on the subject, or anything else that combines to create their life experience and their opinion. In that way I really don’t know much about the reasons they are citing.
Every experience of everything by everyone is different
Let’s say we have two people, same gender, same sexual orientation, same race, same age, living in a similar home in the same city, making the same life choice. Those two people can still make different choices, or they can make the same choice, but that choice will look totally different for each of them. Just because someone is or isn’t like someone else doesn’t mean experiences will be similar or not. In that way, listening to some persons list about how they experienced young marriage, or being single until they had an established career, or whatever, doesn’t actually mean that it will translate to you and your experience of that same choice. You are an independent and amazing creature who will experience everything differently than everyone else
Life is a big beautiful complex beast, and we do it an injustice by narrowing it down to short quips and summaries
I love hearing stories and telling my own, but have you ever noticed that at the end of a good one, you always want more? Well, that’s life. We always have more to do, see hear, feel, smell, experience, love… on and on. When we narrow down these big choices and experiences into a simple list or summary, we are choosing to ignore all of the other things going on in our big wonderful lives. Each of these experiences live in a kaleidoscope of life! We can’t ignore anything, yet in order to summarize and make these experiences translatable, we need to. No marriage happens in a vacuum void of anything but those two people, there are families, jobs, friends, and a million other things happening at the same time.
You should listen to advice, stories, lists, or blogs because
Life is simple.
You are born, you live, and you die. That is life. We have countless experiences within that scope, but in reality, the only things that matter are the things that matter to you. By taking these snapshots of someone else’s life, we can find meaning in our own. By listening to the stories of women who waited to have kids until she checked off the boxes on a two page long spreadsheet I can start to decide what being a potential mother means to me. By listening to the small snippets of advice in a list about buying a home in your twenties I can find meaning in my home, financial choices, and plan for my future. We all get to choose what pieces of our lives have meaning, and learning about what means something to others can help us do that.
Every experience of everything by everyone is similar.
While it’s true every experience is different, it is also true that every experience shares similarities to experiences across the globe. We all want to love, be loved, and live. The woman who adamantly believes marriage should only be undertaken by a woman over 30 with a solid career and I both have contemplated the choice to marry, and have weighed our beliefs about it to form an experience. In every person, event, and experience shares something with everything else that has ever happened. You only need to look to find it.
Everyone creates their opinions based on their own “stuff” including YOU.
You bring your own knowledge, memories, experiences, instincts, etc. to everything you do. That means when you read a college girls opinions about the value of this or that, you can use your own self to make some choices about the opinions she expresses. We don’t have to believe, but we can choose to believe, anything we want. You hold all of the power to define each moment and piece of advice for yourself.
Take it all in, listen, read, write, smile, laugh, cry… and then ignore or take on whatever works for you. Respect that others are doing the same. Each choice we make is both simple and complex. Think critically and follow your heart. Whether it means you get married and have babies at 23, buy a home for the first time when you are 45, or switch careers at 67, be the best you that you can be each day.