Unsolicited advice is the worst, isn’t it?

Even when people mean well, the advice you didn’t ask for is almost always a little bit patronising, a little bit awkward, and often just plain wrong. In fact, even the advice you DO ask for can end up steering you down a totally wrong path, and recently I got to thinking (I have no idea how or why) just how different my life would be if I’d taken some of the well-meant advice I’ve been given over the years. Things like…

advice I'm glad I didn't take

Don’t make your hobby your job

I remember being told this when I was a little girl who was totally sure she wanted to be an Olympic showjumper when she grew up. And, I mean, thank God I didn’t take the advice given to me, because just look at me now, with my gold medals, my stable of prize-winning showjumpers, and my… oh no, wait: that didn’t actually happen, didn’t it? The advice I was given, though, wasn’t to avoid horses specifically, but simply to avoid turning a hobby into a job. (Yes, Olympic showjumping was totally my childhood hobby, I swear.) “It will ruin the hobby for you,” I was told, “because once you HAVE to do it, you’ll find that you don’t WANT to do it.”

I was really confused about this. For one thing, I could’t even IMAGINE not wanting to be around horses 24/7, but for another, if I wasn’t allowed to pursue a career doing something I loved, the only alternative on offer seemed to be that I should deliberately seek out a job I DIDN’T enjoy, just so that the few hours of free time I had every week could be spent on my hobby. This made absolutely zero sense to me, because either way you looked at it, I was presumably going to spend my working life being miserable, and wasn’t life too short for that?

Well, fast-forward a few (OK, OK, more than a few…) years, and here I am, with a hobby (blogging) which I turned into a job. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m not for a second trying to claim that it would be the ideal solution for everyone, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would, indeed, find that their hobbies were effectively “ruined” if they tried to turn them into a career. Happily, though, I’m not one of them: I still love blogging every bit as much as I did when it was a hobby rather than a job, and in fact, I think the challenges that full-time blogging bring have helped make it more interesting to me. No job is perfect, obviously, but then again, no hobby is either: I loved horse-riding, for instance, but I wasn’t quite so keen on mucking out stalls, so it’s not like keeping something as purely a hobby will allow you to simply skip all the things you don’t like about it.

Get a nice, sensible job

Most of the people who told me not to make my hobby my job advocated getting a nice, sensible job, instead. I actually DID take this advice, and I’ve never been more miserable in my life. Just to contradict the title of this post, though, I AM glad I took this particular piece of advice, because it taught me that I’m just not cut out for “traditional” employment. I like being my own boss, I love being able to set my own schedule, and work on things I’m passionate about, and if I hadn’t had a series of “normal” jobs first, I wouldn’t have known that, would I?

Still on the subject of work (I swear I didn’t intend these to all be career-related when I started this post!)…

UK lifestyle blog

Don’t work with your partner

“You’ll argue all the time,” everyone told me. “You’ll start to hate each other.” “You need to spend time apart.” Again, this definitely wouldn’t work for everyone, but Terry and I met at work, and then started a business together from home, and so far none of the dire predictions people made about couples who work together have come true.

I think it helps that although we both work from home, we don’t work on the same projects: Terry is involved with the business and technical side of my blogging business, but for the most part he’s busy with his clients, and I’m busy with my blogs, so we’re not working “together” per se. Terry also likes to watch TV while he works, while I require complete silence (he wears headphones, so we’re both happy!), so it’s not like we’re sitting chatting all day either – we do talk, obviously, but we’re both fairly engrossed in our separate tasks, so it doesn’t get too claustrophobic.

Again, it wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for us, so it’s all good.

Don’t buy a dog

The first thing I did when Terry and I had the offer accepted on our first house was to go out and buy a puppy. Pretty much everyone I knew was absolutely aghast at this. “Don’t do it!” they told me. “A dog will tie you down!” (I always get a mental imagine of Rubin tying me to a chair or something when people say this…) “It will eat your stuff! Your life just won’t be the same!”

Well, it’s true that travel is a little bit trickier when you have a pet to consider, and yes, he did eat a LOT of my stuff when he was a puppy. (RIP those green and gold shoes: how I loved you!) But, I mean, just look at this face and tell me I’d be better off without it in my life?

Rubin

You can’t do it, can you? (If you can, I’m giving you total side-eye right now, I swear.) He can be a complete pain in the butt when he wants to be, but honestly, he’s such a little sweetheart that you just can’t stay mad with him. Not even that time when I got up at 4am to catch a flight and discovered that he’d had really explosive diarrhoea in the night, and … actually, I’m not even going to finish this story: it’s just too gross.

We love him, is what I’m saying. And I’m really glad we got him.

Cut your hair short and completely change your wardrobe as soon as you hit 30

No one in my “real life” ever said this to me, but I read it – and other advice like it – in so many magazines etc that as my 30th birthday approached, I became convinced that I would soon have to chop off my long hair and start wearing boring, matronly clothes befitting my advanced age. I remember buying a particular dress which hit just a couple of inches above my knee, and absolutely agonizing over whether or not it was appropriate now that I was so OLD.

I’m SO glad I got over all of that. I actually didn’t really find my style, or have fun with fashion, until I was in my 30s, and I’d have missed all of that if I’d accepted the received wisdom that after a certain age, women should essentially become invisible. And imagine how dull life would be without all of those dresses I didn’t think I should be wearing!

I’m sure I could come up with some more examples if I tried, but, well, I’ve talked for long enough now, so I’ll simply close by re-iterating that I’m not saying any of this advice is “bad” necessarily (Well, apart from the last one…): just that I’m glad I didn’t take it, because my life would’ve been so different if I had. What about you? Any advice you’re glad YOU didn’t take?

25 Comments
  1. Oh my I actually did cut of my hair, and I’m soon turning 30. But on the other hand I still wear some of the clothes I bought when I was 18 so maybe I’m not changing that much.

    I really like your blog so I’m really happy that you can have it as a job. It has taught me so much about blogging and I love being able to check in everyday to see if there something new to read./love Ida

    1. Oh, I wasn’t trying to say it’s bad to cut your hair – just that it’s a shame to make people feel like they HAVE to change things just because they reach a certain age 🙂

  2. Aww, I heard many similar things too. My husband and I work from home too and most of the time we are involved in the same project. So many told us we are going to divorce and after 8+ years we are still together. People project their own problems and now if I hear something like this I think it’s sad.

  3. This is such a great post! I have received my fair share of unsolicited advice lately as I just told my family that I want to blog full time. I know I can make the shift but everyone seems to think I should separate my job and my hobby! That is crazy talk!
    xoxo Annie
    http://www.somethingswellblog.com/

  4. How can anyone say getting a dog is a bad idea? As soon as we’re set up for one then I’m all over that puppy business – Rubin is such a cutie!

    A lot of my friends told me to avoid my now-husband because we met online (not through online dating) so he must have been a scary predator. This was in the 00s, when it was maybe less common (can you imagine someone saying that now?!) but I’m very glad I ignored them and met up with him anyway – thankfully, he wasn’t a scary predator and six years later we’re married!

    1. I’m always confused by the dog thing too, but most of my friends aren’t even remotely interested in animals of any kind – I, meanwhile, can’t go into a house with a pet without wanting to play with it: different strokes, I guess!

  5. I am so glad I didn’t take the same advice too! I still get a few comments and uncertain smirks from closest, but I have to remember that what I’m doing is unknown to them and certainty and security in their experience is different to mine. In fact, happiness is my eyes is a little bit more valuable than certainty and security and people find it hard to understand!

    Great post!

    Big love
    Tatyana
    http://www.lafotka.com (previously Secret little Stars)

    1. I totally agree! The one thing that always surprises me, though, is that people seem to think that a “normal” job is a guarantee of job security – I know SO many people who’ve been laid off, and had a ton of stress trying to find something else in a hurry: self-employment is definitely a risk, and not for everyone, but it’s not like traditional employment guarantees you a job for life, either!

  6. As a fellow red head you may have had the same advice as I did growing up – don’t wear red or pink as it clashes with your hair! I listened to it for years before I realised it was rubbish! Now I wear as much red as I want!

    1. Also, “Wear clear mascara, because black will look weird on you” – er, no, and clear mascara is basically the Emperor’s New Clothes of makeup, too!

  7. I think every job is going to have an element of something you don’t like about it (if I were to blog full-time I could put Twitter marketing right up there – how I loathe Twitter), but I would totally turn my blogging hobby into a job if I had the opportunity too because most of the time it’s something I really enjoy, and at the end of the day I’d rather be paid to do that than something I don’t love as much, regardless of the stuff that’s not as fun. If you really enjoy something, how can being paid to do it make you want to stop?! Doesn’t seem to make sense to me… Surely that’s the ultimate goal of life!

    I had to smile at the above commenter who mentioned the ‘don’t meet partners online’ thing. I met my boyfriend just over 3 years ago online and really if I’d believed the people who thought everyone on the web was an axe murderer boy I’d be miserable now!

  8. Love this post – it never fails to amaze me how much people love to stick their oar in. I’ve never understood the hobby vs job thing. Why be miserable 9-5 (and then too tired to indulge in your hobby!) when you could do something you enjoy instead, and get paid for it. I sometimes wonder whether part of it is a tiny bit of jealousy. I think some people, especially those who have worked really hard in a job they don’t love or even like, find it a bit unfair that others can be successful in getting paid for their hobbies. Hopefully I’m wrong!

    1. I agree that it probably stems from jealousy, and probably fear. Many people are too afraid (or not in a place to pursue entrepreneurship) and they resent others a bit for it. Why not do what you love? That is such a strange concept.

  9. The advice I most often heard growing up was to tone down my personality, that it would offend some people. That was actually really hurtful advice to hear as a kid/teen and it made me think I had to be someone different to be successful. Thankfully I had parents who encouraged me to be myself, others be damned and now its so much easier to find my “tribe” if you will because those people dont mind and actually gravitate towards my personality.
    As for the 30 year old matronly thing, that is so sad and infuriating! Any woman, at any age, should wear what she damn well pleases and I hate that people police a wardrobe (or a skirt above the knee, gasp!) because the woman is 30. Its a critique I see often on bloggers over 30 and I always hate it, Im glad you didnt listen!

  10. On the long hair, I grew up with you need to cut your hair, and the world said 30 and I though ok till 30, then 40 hit then 50 hit and I am still not ready so blah to the nay sayers ( sticking my tongue out at them I am ) and Kent and I work together in the same field and we volunteer together and travel together, cuz we really are best friends and enjoy each others company so good on you for ignoring them all ( and yes that face is totally saying he belongs in your life)

  11. I love this post. It’s so true. I feel like when we’re growing up the only things we are told we can be are lawyers, doctors, and maybe even teachers. It’s not so popular to say that you want to be a writer on career day. It’s not popular to say you want to be a business owner of some kind either. I enjoy working with my husband and my daugther or our online business and I’m glad that we are doing that. Family working together is stronger than strangers trying to kick you in the butt sometimes.
    http://www.timelessmodesty.com

  12. I hate the ” You must do/wear/think/look like ” police. Be who you are and what you are, I say! I am nearly 40 *gulp* and I still wear frou frou frocks, pretty shoes, sleeveless options and watch Disney if the mood takes me. I do have short (well, shoulder length) hair but I had it cut when I was 31 for medical reasons, not because I was over 30. Hair cutting didn’t help my health issues and now that I am training as a nurse I am tempted to grow it again. I always felt more Me with long hair and it is easier to tie it up for work.

  13. Two of my sisters totally went through the mid life (quarter life?) crisis at 30 and cut their hair and changed their wardrobe. That only lasted a bit and they went back to their old style, but it was funny they both felt pressure to be different at 30.

    When I purchased my home, I had the opposite advice as you! Everyone was trying to convince me to get a dog. And chickens. And ducks. I already have three cats, I’m not trying to start a farm here.

  14. Oh Rubin! How could anyone regret that little face.

    Well, I’ve been very lucky that I have a talent for surrounding myself with equally creative (read slightly unhinged dreamers) friends and family BUT if I’d have taken the advice of my extended family I suspect mine would have been ‘Don’t marry the guy you’ve known for 18months, don’t ruin your wedding dress with paint and for gods sake Rachel; don’t rain down fire on yourself at the end’ (evidence of afore mentioned martial irresponsibility http://rebelrebelbride.com/2015/01/08/buy-the-ticket-take-the-ride-our-brighton-wedding/)

    All of which I did at my wedding AND didn’t invite them.

    I do however wish I’d listened to the aunt that told me not to shave a big chunk out of my hair when I was 23. It looked AWFUL. I’d never have admitted that to her though!

  15. oh goodness, the “cut your hair/dress different” advice also comes after having a baby.
    “Oh, you’re having a baby? well you better cut your hair all off and get one of those ‘mom’ hairstyles”
    no thanks!! it doesn’t help that I’m a new mom AND I’m 30 😉

  16. Yes, I’m glad I didn’t listen to anyone one that told me travel for women (without a man in our group) was unsafe. How silly! I would’ve missed out on so many wonderful adventures!

  17. I love this post. I have been given so much wrong advice. Its such a good job I didn’t listen. Don’t go to University Don’t stay on to do research Don’t go into teaching.. Don’t go out dressed like that(lots of times..) Don’t move in with him..I’m so glad I ignored them all.

  18. Is it bad to say that it is kind of nice to hear other people get the ‘don’t get a dog’ advice? My partner and I just got our first puppy 3 months ago and while it is hard work he is awesome! Still some people kept seeming to think it was a spur of the moment, just seen one in the supermarket decision. Odd. As for the one about turning your hobby into your job – I think I have been guilty of saying that before! I am definitely going to stop with that one, I don’t know what is best for other people – instead I resolve to ask questions about their plans and simply be interested and supportive.
    Really good blog, only just found about you and very pleased I did.

  19. Love this! Me and my boyfriend have wanted a dog for ages but the only thing holding us back is how much everyone tells us we’ll regret it and how it’ll ‘tie us down’! Maybe I need to rethink this and ignore them! 🙂

    Also – no chance am I cutting my hair at 30, I plan on being an old granny with waist length hair if possible, haha!

    http://www.maisymeow.com

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