I know this sounds a little weird, but hear me out.
The best advice my husband has ever given me has been to shut the f*ck up.
Personally, at one time, I was the go-to person for advice and counsel among my friends, on everything from relationships and dating to what doesn’t work with a certain pair of shoes.
I'm not sure when I became the advice friend, but I'm sure my general traits aided in my relevance.
I'm sarcastic, funny and relatively direct, not to mention wise and observant.
I often say the things no one else has the nerve to say.
People grow an appreciation for hearing about how others are wasting their time with a guy who only texts them during booty-call hours, until you hold up a mirror to their own lives.
Some people might chalk it up to women being catty, but it is actually meant with care and respect.
I always think if someone had told me to stop crying over a man who didn’t show me the love I wanted, maybe I would have done so sooner.
Or the very least, I don't want people to lie to me and say I can pull off a jumpsuit.
Instead, we often provide our friends with advice they want to hear.
"He’s not ready for a girl like you."
"You can totally pull off those shorts."
Either way, I see it as dishonest to not tell my friend the truth of how I really see a situation.
This doesn’t mean I'm perfect. I'm just as hard on myself.
I've had to slap myself in the face when I've been forced to accept disappointment.
I realized sometimes, we simply have to accept that someone doesn’t like us or that we didn’t work hard enough for the promotion.
The cousin who stole your toys during childhood will likely never repay you the money he or she borrowed.
Accept it, get over it and move on.
When I seek advice, I hope for honesty.
I know there are times where I am too close to a situation, and I hope a good friend calls me out.
That is all I ever thought I was: a good friend.
I pride myself on not saying something behind a friend’s back that I wouldn’t say to him or her directly.
I keep confidences and provide emotional support.
I feel my life experiences have given me perspectives I want to share, and everyone I care about has the right and privilege to benefit from my wisdom.
I do this for free, after all. Sometimes, I even bring the wine.
It wasn’t until after someone who I cherished as a friend began to distance herself from me that I saw this as an issue.
We met for tea after months of very sparse communication, and she basically told me she didn’t think I was a good friend to her during the breakdown of her relationship.
I, of course, was shocked.
Looking back, I still don’t really get why she feels this way.
I was actually the ex’s go-to girl to help fulfill surprises and gifts in most cases.
But when I felt like he no longer provided her with what she wanted and his efforts were causing her pain, my job was to let her know her unhappiness was visible.
It doesn’t mean break up, but it means a change is needed.
Truthfully, I know that while I may never understand her feelings, I had hurt her, even though it was never my intent.
After this encounter, I was thoroughly upset. Returning home, I described the encounter to my husband.
He listened contently and said, “You know, sometimes you should just shut the f*ck up.”
He went on to describe what he observes.
Every day, a friend calls with issues: work, family, love, shoes or whatever.
But what do I get out of it? Is there some self-satisfaction in proving myself right?
Do I have some need to be involved in everyone’s affairs? Am I simply a busybody?
My husband’s comment was not to silence me and all of my wisdom.
However, I learned I need to develop more discretion when talking to anyone.
It's interesting to look at why I need to be a voice of reason, and how I got to the point of offending friends.
The realization I made was that I don’t need to be this person to anyone.
I slowly began to shut the f*ck up. When people had issues and wanted to talk, I was there.
But starting to keep my opinions to myself helped me become more conscious of whether my opinion was helpful or hurtful.
It takes practice to be quiet or at least filter.
The few friends who noticed the change insisted I be the same.
But slowly, I found they too had no real interest in some opinions.
What I have really realized is this: When someone truly values your opinion and insight, it can taint his or her choices.
I have always thought adults ultimately did what they wanted in the end.
But sometimes, that snide remark from a friend could make you walk away from something without even realizing.
Learning to temper my words by being less verbal with my opinions helped people feel they could trust themselves.
The thing about advice is, in most instances, no one really wants it.
What people generally want is validation of their feelings.
They want someone to listen and act as a sounding board. That’s about it.
Despite how people say they want the truth, they want their version of the truth.
I still have a friend here or there who gets the full brunt of my truth, but I filter my opinions more in general.
Shutting the f*ck up has truly set me free (not that I'm giving advice to anyone here).