Your Own Path OR Ignoring Good Advice

Recently, someone in a professional setting told me that I was great “management material.” I brushed it off in the moment but gave that comment further consideration later that evening. What even is “management material”? What does that mean? Should I pursue that in my career? Should I clarify that my intention and desires for my life don’t necessarily lie down that path? After a lot of thinking, I think I’ve figured out a few things about myself, and about that situation.

Well-intentioned advice isn’t a bad problem to have, but can be frustrating.

Advice is always a roll of the dice, it could be received in a way you don’t intend or it could be a pivotal moment in someone else’s life. I personally believe that how they take the advice is a reflection of them and not necessarily your advice. Regardless, it has all the makings for a super uncomfortable conversation. A mentor of mine once told me that if someone is taking the time to give you advice or feedback, they think you’re worth their effort and time and that you’re capable of more than you’ve shown. Essentially, it’s a weird flavor of a compliment. Ever since then, I’ve found it much easier to accept feedback and advice from others, but to each their own with that.

Deciding whether to listen to advice is entirely optional.

Whether you decide to gracoiusly accept or explosively reject someone’s advice doesn’t change the outcome–you heard it. You have their advice, living “rent free” in your head. Will it eat away at your brain slowly, will it become your guiding light, or will you just box it up and tuck it away, never to be seen again? That’s entirely up to you. “Oh wow, thanks, I hate it” is a totally valid response to advice in your brain.

What you want is more important than what you’re suited to.

That advice is now your thing. Your toy. Your taskmaster. You can decide what to do with it. I’ll never forget the time I was given the advice to find another career because they didn’t think I was well-suited for what I wanted to do. I’m not unhappy with my life has turned out following that advice, but I will never forget that feeling of having someone give me the unwanted, unwarranted, and frankly untrue advice. I could have pursued that career, but I took that piece of advice to heart and moved on to something else. What if I hadn’t? What if I had kept on the same path, used that advice as fuel to prove them wrong, and kicked ass at it? I’ll never know, but I’ll never accept advice without really thinking about if I want to take it or leave it.

At the end of the day, it’s your life.

Advice can be great, and it can be a joke. Don’t let someone else’s advice be the sole determining factor in how you lead your life. Including this advice. #paradox


Feel-Good Classics OR Sick Cinema

Let’s take it easy this week. I just got my second COVID-19 vaccine today and am looking forward to watching movies and relaxing all weekend while my body does its thing. That got me thinking — what are THE BEST movies for sick days? Here’s a quick list of my top 5 why they’re so great. I think of them as feel-good classics or “sick cinema,” if you will.


  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
    What makes this movie so awesome? It’s not just a visual feast, but a heartwarming story of a woman learning to live for herself but still caring for others.
    Best Part: Billy Crystal’s Calcifer voice acting
    Weakest Part: The meandering ending


  1. The Princess and the Frog
    The music in this is just splendid, but the characters are the most memorable. And, for me, the lesson Tiana learns always hits hard. Best Part: The Shadow Man scenes
    Weakest Part: Charlotte La Bouff’s obliviousness


  1. The Princess Bride
    The movie quite literally opens with a framework story where a young boy is sick in bed. What other setup do you need to know this is a great movie for when you’re sick? But, as the grandpa says, it has “…fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”
    Best Part: “As you wish”
    Weakest Part: Inigo Montoya after the 100th time


  1. Clue
    Cult classic comedy with some rockstar performances with amazing one-liners. What could be better when you’re under the weather?
    Best Part: “Flames…on the side of my face”
    Weakest Part: Professor Plum being a lech…


  1. IT (The 90s Miniseries Version)
    Do you need to feel like you’re losing your touch with reality? Do you want to feel like you’re being pursued by a homicidal supernatural clown? Do you want to question the interconnectedness of the entire Kingverse? Well, the original IT miniseries is there for you; best watched while you have a fever and are going in and out of consciousness.
    Best Part: The realization that all of the victims had incredibly successful lives
    Worst Part: The realization that they all ended up back in their hometown

That’s it. Those are my 5 recommendations for sick cinema viewing. I’m looking forward to binge watching all of those, and then some, while modern science works on my body to make me better than I was before. If you’re able, go get vaccinated! And give these movies a try if your side effects are gross.

Self-Deprecation is not Appreciated OR Put Down the Put-Downs

We all have those moments in conversations where we go on autopilot, right? The “uh-huh”s and the “yep”s that just feed into the exchange of noises between two human beings. This usually happens without any meaning behind it, but what about some of the other phrases we utter? “Oh no!” or “that’s so crazy” easily slip out of our mouths without so much as a second thought. 

But what about those phrases that land like a lead balloon in the space between two people; the unintentional attack, the triggering phrase, the remark with a little too much criticism? Recently, I noticed a colleague giving a string of compliments that caught my attention. Not because of the sentiment, or the situation, but the fact that they always included self-deprecation. Compliments like, “oh, you’re so great at that—I could never do that!” and, “thank goodness you’re on this team, I’d be so lost without your help.” 

On the surface, they’re run-of-the mill compliments among coworkers, right? I don’t my colleague gave a second thought to the actual phrasing of the compliments. However, as someone who’s particularly prone to negative self-talk, those self-deprecating comments threw up a red flag to me immediately. Putting yourself down, even in a seemingly harmless way such as when trying to underscore a compliment to someone else, isn’t a problematic habit at the best of times. In the current state of the world, it’s even worse to have your own brain throwing shade at you. 

During a one-on-one meeting with that colleague, they gave me another self-deprecating compliment and I couldn’t restrain myself. I gently retorted that they could, in fact, do the Excel formula I was showing them if they wanted. “You don’t give yourself enough credit—you’re a talented, intelligent person,” was more-or-less my response. That caused them to pause and then agree with me. I’m not sure if I really did anything to help my colleague in that exchange, but I hope I did. 

Afterward, I wanted to know more about what causes people to couple compliments with self put-downs, so I did a little bit of research. What I found while researching was quite surprising.

As suspected, self-deprecating compliments were frequently tied to negative self-talk. Additionally, several articles I found indicated it was more common among women, and especially related to compliment each others’ appearance. As a cisgender man with no psychological training, I am not qualified to discuss this, so I will just leave it as an observation. 

Negative self-talk is a common issue many people face, whether they realize it or not. So, what does someone do if they realize it? Not everyone lets their negative self-talk leak out into their external conversations for other people to point out. Thankfully, there is a lot of information and many helpful tips available online, mostly based in cognitive behavioral therapy. Linked below are a few good articles to read if you’re interested in more information.

The common themes that stand out among all of these is firstly identifying that it’s happening, repackaging the talk from a global statement to a specific situation, and realizing when you’re barking unrealistic expectations at yourself rather than being your own friend. 

During my own mental health journey, I’ve realized that words have a lot of power—the words we use with others and the words we use with ourselves. Be careful with them. 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash