When I say that you shouldn’t take another person’s advice, what I really mean is you shouldn’t take another person’s advice fully, even if the advice that he/she offers is meaningful and right. Why? Because in doing so, you rob yourself of a vital, personal learning experience. Often, we learn the most about ourselves when we make our own decisions and our own mistakes.
Check out this great You Tube video by Bite Size Psych:
That is not to say that another person’s advice is wrong. In fact, in many instances those who offer you advice have already experienced something similar and therefore are more knowledgeable than you. But taking another person’s advice does not necessarily guarantee you personal success or more importantly, happiness. Sometimes, the path to your own reward and happiness is the result of your own personal trials and errors, yourown fails and successes.
For example, as an English and Psychology double major, I am frequently bombarded with comments and questions along the lines of: “What do you plan to do with your degree?” ,“So, you’re going to be a teacher”, and “Well, that doesn’t sound like a moneymaker”.Numerous times, people have pointed out to me that a business or finance path would have been a more “practical” career path, in terms of acquiring a well-paying job after graduation. And you know what? They’re probably right. But I hate numbers, and I love to write. It’s very possible that I may struggle a little bit after graduation in terms of finding a job, but it’s also possible that I find a job within my field of interest that pays decently. If I take someone else’s advice and immediately take a more business-oriented path, I may miss out on a rewarding job opportunity. I can always keep someone’s advice in the back of my mind if my original plan doesn’t work out, but at least I’ll know I tried out my true passion first.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, other people’s advice can be helpful and noteworthy, but so is your internal voice, the one telling you to pursue your true passion, to seek your own happiness, to try new things that maybe others don’t deem “practical”. If I always listened to my high school track coach’s race plan advice by running “conservatively”, I would have probably never experienced some of my biggest breakout races (like the time I decided to run with three of New Jersey’s best runners for half of the two mile race—I totally fell off but still beat my personal time by a lot and qualified for States). If my mother followed my second piece of advice from my first article: “Don’t Get Married Until After You’re 25”, she might have missed out on a great man (my father), a happy marriage (they’re going on 28 years this August), and I wouldn’t be here! Some advice is worth listening to—when all of your friends tell you that the guy you’re “seeing” is a jerk and you deserve better, they’re probably right. But sometimes, it’s best to take another person’s advice with a grain of salt and keep doing you.