Advice is something given, usually freely, even when unasked for. There are so many well- meaning people in the world that want to give out pearls of wisdom, I am often inundated with ideas on all manner things. How to shop for a home; buy a car; apply for credit; deal with my love life, blah blah blah. The list seems to go on and on forever. Everyone has a better way of doing something, and it's almost enough to make me go crazy to have to listen to it all. However, there have been incredibly wise bits of knowledge passed on to me, that while I may not have understood them at the time, seem almost profound in hindsight. Three of these are, don't go around fighting; watch how I use credit; and finally, watch whom you trust.
When I was in highschool, I was a skinny little kid; I was a natural target for bullies. As I got a little older, I learned to fight. My parents were happy that I was learning something that would help me physically, as well as with my confidence. Indeed, I no longer walked around like a victim; the problem was that I seemed to be looking for trouble. One day, as was sure to happen, I got into a fight. No one was hurt, but my parents still got involved. After an excruciatingly long lecture on how one stupid act could ruin my life, I was sent on my way. "Boy," I thought, "they sure don't have a clue about how life is today." Fortunately for me, I did listen, even though I didn't understand. The next month a saw a young man arrested for hitting someone. The fight started over a girl, and for hitting another person, the young man went to jail for five months. His career in law-enforcement was ruined before it even had a chance to start.
Another wonderful bit of advice my parents gave me was in the usage of credit. "You can have too much credit. After awhile, it becomes a perpetual monster in your life." At the time I was only nineteen or so, with no idea of what interest charges were, and the thought of all the spending power I could have, just waiting for me to come apply was almost overwhelming. As soon as I was able, I got all the easy credit I was allowed to get on my way to the American dream. One day, I realized how much money I owed and was almost struck dumb by what I had done. It happened to be that I was in the Army at the time and didn't have to worry about grocery shopping or paying the light bill, so with a second job and a little work, I was able to get out of the hole I had dug myself into. Now my goal is to keep as little credit as possible. There will always be a house and car payment. I don't think I will be able to get around those, but for most of the other stuff, if I can't pay cash, I don't need any of it.
And finally, the most, incredibly important concept ever taught me is that the natural goodness of people can't be relied on. I was terribly naive when I was younger. I had been in the Boy Scouts and believed that most people had the same moral values I did. My parents knew how I thought and through their own experiences, knew the painful truth. I was always sheltered by their love, and never had my trust betrayed by the people I knew in my youth. Indeed, it wasn't until I had moved out and gone into the military that I had really dealt with anyone that didn't think along the same lines I did. I was taken advantage of unmercifully until I learned the hard way what my folks had tried to teach me. With some incredible luck, all I lost was some money. My so-called friends almost took me to prison and into a life that I couldn't even begin to imagine.
Most people want to see a positive outcome in any venture. That's why their advice is so freely thrown out to their friends, and indeed, to people only just met in the supermarket check out line. It is just so frustrating when people who seem so out-of-touch with their own lives to try and tell me how to live mine. Advice from family is well-meaning and given out of love; however, that doesn't mean it is worth listening to. Everyone suffers from bad advice, even great leaders of the world. The problem is, we have gotten so used to ignoring poor advice, that many times the subtle well-placed counsels of a wise person are ignored. I hope that as I grow older, I will become more adept at skimming the wise droplets the float my way, while leaving the dross behind.