Five Phrases Worse Than Saying Nothing
We’ve all been there – you’re hanging out with someone who has a great career/wonderful husband/adorable child/perfect life, and she (usually she) can’t help but offer “advice” so you can get to the same happy place. She lurks in disguise as a friend/sibling/cousin/aunt/neighbour/random person you just met an hour ago.
And let’s be honest – you might even have unintentionally been That Person for someone else. We’ve heard these nuggets of wisdom so many times we’ve become masters of the eye-roll. But that doesn’t mean we should keep saying them. Here are five phrases worse than saying nothing at all.
“Just quit your job and do what you love.”
This sounds wonderful, right? You get paid to do what you love, and everybody goes home happy. Or, you might wake up with cold sweats in the middle of the night because you realise you don’t have that entrepreneurial streak everyone seems to be walking around with these days, and you’ve given up a steady job and salary to “find yourself.” Or because you realise you don’t actually know what you love to do. Or because you realise you have financial responsibilities, and starting at the bottom in a new field isn’t going to meet them. A person may not love their job, but they are going to love having no money even less. There’s no “just” quitting a job. This line is a recommendation for anxiety, not life.
Optional response: “How much does watching Orange is the New Black while getting a manicure pay?”
“He’ll come along, just be patient.”
A moment of silence for single women everywhere who must master the art of patience to achieve happiness. They helplessly wait for Mystery Man to rescue them from their pointless lives. Because, you know, it’s not possible to be happy without a boyfriend/husband. Except the single women we know are writing books, building businesses, travelling the world, and being all kinds of awesome. They don’t plan to run away from coupledom if they meet a man they like, but they sure as hell aren’t sitting around and waiting for him to come along. Nix this from your conversational repertoire with enthusiasm.
Optional response: “Do I look like I’m sitting around waiting?”
“You’ll feel different when they (kids) are yours.”
Mothers everywhere, glowing in the choice they made to have a family, insist that every woman will love the kids she bears. Don’t all women have that maternal instinct, after all? Well … not really. There are many women who love playing with their nieces and nephews but don’t want kids of their own. And that’s an absolutely valid choice. Besides, this isn’t trial and error. What if they don’t actually feel differently if they have kids? If you utter this line, be sure to double check that the stork takes returns.
Optional response: “And if I don’t, will you take them?”
“It’s selfish not to have kids.”
We’re still trying to figure this one out. Do people mean it’s selfish to deny others the opportunity to be a grandparent/aunt/uncle? Do they mean having kids automatically makes you a more selfless person? We aren’t quite sure. Regardless, some people don’t want to have children. It’s brave of them to stand by their decision in a society that expects couples to procreate without delay as the natural order of things. There’s no denying that having kids is meaningful, but it’s not the only way to live a meaningful life. And if someone pursuing one of those other paths doesn’t want kids, it’s better they don’t procreate simply because they’re expected to. Those poor kids would be in for a lifetime of therapy.
Optional response: “I’m just trying to do my part to curb over-population!”
“You’ll change your mind (about marriage/kids/anything).”
When all else fails, advice-givers pull out the big guns: You’ll change your mind. We’re right; you’re wrong—you just don’t know it yet. You’ll come around to their way of thinking when you’re older, wiser, more mature like them. This has us gritting our teeth so often we might have ground them down a bit. Consider that the person in question may have given the topic a lot of thought—and still wants different things. Doesn’t seem possible? That’s okay, because you’ll change your mind. Just you wait and see. (See how annoying it is?)
Optional response: Middle finger.
Most of the time, these statements come from warm, loving hearts. It’s human nature to want to see the people we care about be happy, so we misguidedly dole out advice to help them along their way. But happiness means different things to different people, so stop yourself the next time you’re about to say one of the above. Smile and nod instead. At most, ask the person you’re with why they’ve chosen differently than you — then really listen.
And if you’re on the receiving end, just roll your eyes.