Don't Take My Advice

"What kind of learner are you?"

You've probably been asked this question at some point in your life. You were allowed to choose from the following types: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

Academically speaking, we all learn and study best in an individualized way. Maybe you like to read lecture notes aloud, use flashcards, or build models. It's a fairly straightforward assumption that people absorb information best by seeing, hearing, doing, or a combination of these few.

Beyond the realms of academia, methods of learning are far more complex. Attempting to make sense of your life, for example, is not as simple as creating charts or reading textbooks. Many people seek self-assuredness in yoga retreats at overpriced campgrounds in Malibu, or in inspirational photos on Instagram.

Yet, these things are just temporary mood-boosters. They help you hop out of bed in the morning ready to take on the day with a blissful, energized mindset, but by noon you've forgotten all of those quaint motivational principles and you're back to normal, caught in the same routine and droll of the everyday. As much as you'd hoped it would, your life hasn't changed overnight.

I'm actually not a raging pessimist. On the contrary, I'm pretty optimistic. I don't doubt that anyone can grow in wisdom and learn how to effect change in his or her life. I've just realized lessons in life are learned by way of experience, not advice from others.

Sure, receiving advice and support from others is nice and makes you feel safe, whether those words of wisdom come from friends, family, or the author of that self-help book you found for 30 percent off at Barnes and Noble. Even so, when it comes down to applying advice to life, nine times out of ten you're going to revert to doing what you normally would.

There are plenty of neat little examples of ignoring good advice. Maybe you don't listen to your professor's warning against starting an assignment late. Do you listen? Probably not. Maybe your friend tells you not to get involved with a particular girl or guy in whom you're interested. What's the likelihood that you'll abandon your burgeoning crush and tamely divert your attention? Not high.

This is all just human nature. We're all self-interested, independent, and don't like being told what to do. So, we quite often tend to reject solid advice and do what we please.

Fortunately, we learn best from our own -- often negative -- experiences. Recently, I chose to involve myself in a situation a friend had warned me against, and it temporarily obliterated my sense of self. I realized this situation was the tipping point for a problem that had been a long time coming -- I hadn't really felt good about myself in a long while, and had been constantly plagued by the thought of others' disapproval and judgment.

However, something finally clicked this time. I became cognizant of how horribly I was treating myself and how little I deserved the constant self-deprecation. I suppose I experienced a moment of clarity, in which I decided to begin the process of regaining my self-worth.

My friend had tried to show help by offering advice. But it took an accumulation of my own experiences -- and one night of pathetic self-pity -- to finally realize what I deserve and to start acting in healthier ways. This is only one recent example, but I've decided that the only real epiphanies I've had have come from experiencing things for myself.

While you may be thinking at this point that I'm trying to give you lame, Pinterest-quote advice, I'm actually not. All I can offer affirmation of the fact that wisdom follows experience. There are far more wonderful or difficult situations than mine from which to gain really cool and useful knowledge about yourself and about the workings of the world.

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