Writing again

Ripostes: My latest rant about aphorisms

The less SEO-acceptable title for this post would be Shit I Hate Hearing, or Advice That Can Go Piss Up A Rope. Sometimes I need to grump about things in life that get my goat. This is my space for doing that (See the goats? See them?) and I despise these tidbits of wisdom with a deep and fiery passion. Before continuing, consider yourself warned. These may be your favorite sayings. You may find them to be positive and helpful and uplifting. Lots of people do. That’s why I hear them so often, I’m sure. Keep saying them. Keep believing them. It’s all good. You do you, I’ll do me, and we’ll get along great.

Just don’t expect me to agree with you. Now, without further ado, here are three hoary, horrible bits of advice getting on my nerves lately.

Just be yourself.
I have griped more than once about how much I despise this bit of dreck. No time like the present to do it again! The arrogance of this statement is surpassed only by its outstanding ignorance. It assumes entirely too much. Perhaps the recipient of this turd of a suggestion is being herself already. Maybe she doesn’t knows who she is with enough clarity to act on the knowledge. It’s even possible she is a person who should grow or change in some way.
     If ever I was tempted to tell someone, “Oh, don’t worry about it. Just be yourself,” I would immediately stop and consider the possibility that I’m encouraging a child molester, a serial killer or a rapist to act as they see fit. Yes, that’s how my brain works. People who tell me to be myself have no clue what kind of person I am.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.
There’s another one that rubs my fur backwards. Start with the inherent contradiction to Annoying Statement #1. What if the object of this instruction is a person who enjoys being hard on herself? Which directive takes precedence? That’s just the beginning of the wrongness of it. The arrogant assumption principle comes into play here too. How does the advisor here know if the subject of their advice is being hard on herself at all? What if her self-criticism is mild, in comparison with past efforts? It’s a patronizing pat on the head, as belittling as it is useless.

Don’t take it personally.
This one gets under my skin like a splinter and festers. It’s another dismissive erasure. If a criticism is directed at me, a person, then it’s personal. Period. If my feelings are injured by someone’s words, then the wounds are real. Full stop.  Maybe I should learn to let certain criticisms slide off  my ego. Perhaps the words are “meant kindly” or are “just an opinion.” Maybe not.  Those points are irrelevant. I have as much right to react to a slight as I see fit as the person who initiated the interaction had to deliver it. This is not a dismissal of criticism as a concept. Correction is a vital part of personal and professional growth. It’s also often a painful one, and that pain is personal.  This is a condemnation of people who diminish the importance of that pain with a blanket sneer. That is a nasty passive-aggressive power game, and it’s one I refuse to play.

There. Those are my current gripes.

Now, warm fuzzies for everyone.

By K. M. Herkes

Author, gardener, and cat wrangler.