Dear 100 Hour Board,
What kind of advice do you have for me?*
-My Name Here
*a question which in this case means, "tell me something you are passionate about" whether it is advice for students, employees, those in a relationship... Or a cause you which to advocate and encourage fellow human beans to support :D
Thank you to Dragon Lady for suggesting the comic, which is basically a verbatim transcript of my placeholder.
Dear super unique name,
Contacting your government representatives is hard and scary ... like, the first three times. But it is very doable and easy after that. Mass signature lists and Facebook likes/shares and twitter retweets don't do anything. (Well, that's not true - they give the illusion of being helpful when they have very little impact on the people they are supposed to be sending a message to).
We have no choice about whether or not we want to be affected by the government. We all (unless you really want to dissociate from the news) consume and stress about it. Actually contacting your lawmakers is a way, besides voting, canvassing, and donating, for you to actually try to make a difference.
Also, when you call, I would suggest making a call sheet - something where you write down when you called, what you called about, and the name of the staffer you spoke to. Ask them if your congressperson has a position on ____. If they do or not, tell them what you think they should do, how they should vote. You can request a response about it and (it might take a month or so), they'll usually respond. You get to know people and just like you want them to know you're a real and concerned constituent, you should remember that they are too.
- Rating Pending (who wants to give a shout out to Sam, Nathan, Michael, Fred and Libby and other staffers and interns at the various offices for taking his calls)
Almost every decision you make will turn out okay. Your life has infinite possibilities and you will never really know what happiness you would've found on a different path, so stop thinking about the alternate universes where things went slightly differently. Don't feel paralyzed by your options (easier said than done).
The following advice is a quote from a man who witnessed the worst of humanity, and used those experiences to exhort from others the best of humanity. His language is printed here without censorship in recognition of the importance of literary integrity.
Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies — "God damn it, you've got to be kind."
—Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Dear My ~
Don't let yourself be ruled by "The Right Police"—those non-existent people that enforce the things that you "should" do, but have no real idea as to why you should do them.
They are everywhere and try to influence many aspects of your life. Who you should marry, how long you should date first, if you should work while going to school, what grades are acceptable, what you should do on Sundays, how many kids you should have, how spaced out they should be, if you should use birth control and what kind, if you should allow your kids to jump on the couch or wear their play clothes to bed, if you should drink caffeine, or drive 5 over the speed limit.
There are right and wrong answers for each person for everything. But it's only the right answer for you if you are doing it because you believe it, and not just because some cultural norm says you should or shouldn't do something. Trust me, there are no Right Police that will come for you. Trust me, if they had, I would have been long gone the first time I let Dragon Baby cry alone in her crib while I wept twice as hard on the couch into Yellow's shoulder. And many, many times since.
Also, this is advice I am still giving myself almost every day.
~ Dragon Lady
I consider this one of my guiding philosophies: Everybody is stupid about something.
Think of the most knowledgeable, competent, thorough person you have ever known. There is at least one thing for which that person is not just mediocre, not just bad, but just the worst. Maybe driving. Maybe personal finance. Maybe writing poetry. It doesn't matter. Everyone you know and love and have ever met is horrible at something, and probably mistaken about many things.
I know that sounds misanthropic at first. But I think when you realize this, you can be more forgiving of your own flaws, and be both realistic and humble about your own strengths. And then when somebody you love does something really dumb, you don't have to rethink who that person fundamentally is. You can just say to yourself, "oh, now I know what they're stupid about," and move on.
Sauron (And Waldorf)
I bequeath to you my Two Rules of Leadership, discovered through years of intensive study (exactly two years, on my mission, to be exact):
- Don't be a jerk (sound familiar? Cognoscente and yayfulness are on to something...)
- Bring food to meetings
Virtually guaranteed to bring you supervisory success. If you can just not be a jerk then people will tend to default to reasonable coexistence with you, and then giving them food is like magic: immediately communicates that you care and nudges them onto your side.
You can't solve a problem until you understand the source of the problem. Focusing on the symptoms or on what you mistakenly think is the source of the problem is not sufficient and can cause further harm. E.g., if you end up with a puddle of water on the floor every time it rains, you can't solve the problem by focusing on the floor or on the water. You have to focus on fixing the leak in your roof, instead.
This seems pretty self-evident, but I often see people railing against social issues without bothering to try to understand the source of the problem. (And even when informed people disagree about the source of the problem, it still doesn't hurt to become informed about a number of different theories.)
For example, single Mormons get a lot of grief in the Church. We're often accused of being selfish, immature, or insufficiently committed to the faith. Single Mormon women may be further berated for obtaining a graduate degree or pursuing a career on the basis that we must not care about marriage or motherhood. Single Mormon men may be rebuked for not choosing a sufficiently lucrative career or for not asking enough women out. However, if you talk to single Mormons about their experiences, it becomes clear that there are other economic and social factors involved in deciding whether to date or marry (not to mention pure luck) as well as a church culture that largely makes single Mormons feel inadequate and unwelcome. Insufficient chastisement is not the source of Mormon singleness, so resorting to that tactic will never solve the problem. (And when you tease out the true source of a problem, you may even change your mind about whether or not something is really a problem in the first place.)
It's easy to rely on stereotypes and misinformation when looking at the world, and it can even temporarily make you feel superior in your own situation and choices, but it causes a great deal of harm in the long run.
Dear Your Name,
The more I look into it, the more I'm convinced that the U.S. needs to adopt a single payer healthcare system. I come from a conservative background, so I completely understand people's unwillingness to let the government get their hands on yet another thing (especially with the current state of the federal government). However, I can't see any way that costs will go down as long as there's a middleman like health insurance. Health insurance companies exist to profit, not to improve health. Until there's more transparency in healthcare costs (e.g., how much a procedure will cost before it is performed without the consumer getting the run-around from doctors and insurers) and regulation of acceptable costs for a procedure, the insurance companies will continue to have huge profit margins and consumers will continue to be frustrated, unsatisfied, and sick. And that, to me, is inhumane.
Dress well. Learn what you like wearing and what looks good on you. Wear shoes that you're happy to see on your feet. Style your hair in a way that people say looks good on you. Make sure you take care of normal hygienic things, like trimming your fingernails, using skin care products that work well for you, and getting haircuts before you absolutely need them.
You'll start behaving differently. You'll start listening to yourself more. And at the end of the day, for the cost of a few extra minutes every day, you'll feel noticeably more confident.
It's worth it. Give it a try.
P.S. If you're feeling REALLY crazy, you can start flossing every day.
Treat people like people, not as blank faces, stereotypes, or anything less than an incredibly complex human being.
Never speak over someone's lived experience. If a woman tells you it's sexism, don't tell her it's not. Take the opportunity to learn something new. If someone who identifies as LGBTQIA+ tells you something is homophobic or transphobic, learn from it. If a POC tells you something is racist, learn something new. If someone tells you something is classist or ableist, try to understand why.
But also, learn how to not demand emotional labor from oppressed groups. If you don't understand something, accept that someone may not have the mental energy to explain it to you. Google it. Realize that it takes emotional effort to explain your lived experience, and you aren't entitled to that effort.
I don't know your situation. You may know all of this already. But we all stand to learn something from someone else. I urge you to step back from your own assumptions and experiences and learn something new from everyone you encounter. The world would be a better place if we all did.