Advice From Auntie Mara, Part Two

by Mara

A few weeks ago I posted a list of guidelines I try to live my life by. (Incidentally, one I forgot to mention is that it’s acceptable to end sentence with a preposition.) It’s become one of the most popular things I’ve written. That is not saying much, as I only have about ten entries here, but people have been asking me for more of my “advice” and “wisdom.” I have obliged. Feel free to quote, but please credit.

1. The next time you feel like flying into a fit of rage over one of life’s tiny injustices (described here as the Sneaky Hate Spiral), try saying to yourself, “You’re not really angry about this.” Chances are, you aren’t.

2. There is something interesting in everything as long as you are willing to look for it. And often, it’s someone else that can show this to you. I thought fashion was frivolous until I lived with a fashion designer and saw just how much craftsmanship goes into each piece. I thought football was dull until someone told me to think of it like choreography. Allow yourself to be wowed.

3. Unless you are in a job interview, no one wants to hear about how smart you are.

4. Someone else’s job is worse than yours. This is especially true for those of us fortunate enough to live in wealthy countries. Remind yourself that at least you have time to see your friends and family or that at least you are not in any physical danger. (If you are, call the union.)

5. Caring for children means not letting them get away with all you got away with.

6. Writer’s Block does not exist. Ideas come from everywhere. There’s a saying (attributed to Isaac Asimov) that most scientific achievements start not with a “Eureka!” but with a “That’s odd…” This applies to writing, too. Think of what you notice that others don’t, and go from there. What is stopping you is not lack of inspiration, but lack of trust in your abilities.

7. When someone says “I’m not good for you” or “I’ll only break your heart” or “I’m afraid I’ll hurt you,” they are telling the truth. You cannot and will not change them or save them. Run.

8. If you have to describe yourself as a “Nice Guy,” you’re not. If you have to describe yourself as “quirky,” you’re not. And very few truly mature people describe themselves as “mature.”

9. If you like someone, be honest about your intentions. While relationships CAN grow out of friendships, it’s not right to try to make friends with them solely to take advantage at a later point: that’s both sleazy and manipulative. You don’t have to say it outright, but make it clear you like them. If they don’t feel the same way, it will hurt, but you will live. I promise.

9A. Additionally, if you’re going to tell someone you really like them, don’t do it while drinking or using any substances.

10. Liking the same music and movies does not mean you are romantically compatible with someone, or even that you would be good friends. I once got into a bitter online argument with a person whose views I found abhorrent. Out of curiosity, I checked his profile and discovered we had nearly all the same favorite books. These were not just fiction books, either: they were books on philosophy, science, and critical thinking that had shaped the views I was arguing with him about! We liked the same things, but our values, views, and temperaments were so different that we never would have gotten along.

11. If someone on the internet is being rude to or about to you, remember this: very few intelligent, successful, attractive, confident, happy people spend their time bashing people they have never met. Just be glad you are not that person.

12. A cynical attitude is like a callus: a layer of roughness formed in response to pressure, covering what was once raw and vulnerable. Recognize it for the defense mechanism that it is.

13. You would (and likely will) be surprised what you can get used to.

14. Being an adult means taking the step from “I wish someone would do this” to “Huh, nobody else is going to do this, so I guess I have to.”

That’s all for now. Until next time, enjoy being alive! (Enjoy it after next time, too.)




…Alright, fine. For those interested, I’ll give you a cute thing my sibling’s offspring (who is known here as “Oxytocin Boost” and who knows me as “Dantie Mawa”) said a few weeks ago, after I asked if them to sing the alphabet song:

“A B C D E F G… (Long, confused pause and some mumbling) …How I wonder what you are.”

(It was a mash-up! Kid will be writing for Glee any day now.)