Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Best Advice You’ve Followed (or Not Followed)


Drew told me that his grandmother once told him that the key to staying youthful and active is to make two new friends every year. It can be a lot of work sometimes, especially when those friendships suddenly become long-distance ones, but it’s a general rule I’ve tried to stick to. And for clarity, I define a friend as someone I make plans with, confide in, trust, support, and like (as opposed to acquaintances whom I might like and may even confide in but don’t go out of my way to make plans with or extend emotional support to or seek it from, etc.). I think it’s too soon to say whether this rule of making two new friends a year keeps me youthful, but it does keep me active and it enriches my life and it forces me to step outside the comfort bubble of my immediate family and engage in life in ways I might not otherwise if I weren’t actively fostering new relationships.

Other good advice I try to follow:

My dad always said, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” I haven’t always succeeded at this, but it’s a mantra that I repeat often and do embrace pretty frequently. Especially on the internet, oh my.

On old co-worker of mine from, like, fifteen or sixteen years ago once told me that you have to be with someone four whole seasons before you start making any grand plans for the future together. Definitely, there are people who have super happy and successful relationships that hit the fast track well before that one-year mark, so it’s not like you have to follow this rule or else, but, in general, I have found that it’s a good way to stay present and get to know someone without the pressure of figuring it all out right away.

Drew’s advice to drink a big glass of water before bed, after an evening of drinking, is solid, and if I ever don’t heed this advice, I really regret it the next day.

What is some of the best advice you’ve followed (or not followed)?

77 comments… add one
  • Jkishi May 17, 2016, 12:11 pm

    Advice from an old friend back when I was in my early twenties and in my first post college relationship and it ended badly and I thought I could “win” a break up by going on a date less then a week later and having mutual friends tell my ex I had moved on and wasn’t hurt at all.

    I ended up sobbing in the bathroom of the restaurant my date had taken me because my date wasn’t my ex.

    My friend told me that “you break up differently when you’re an adult. You can’t just get a new date just to stick it to your ex.”

    Of all the dating advice I’ve ever been given, this is the only one I ever listened to completely.

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  • Anonymousse May 17, 2016, 12:12 pm

    Stop taking shit personally. It’s the best. Sometimes stuff is personal, that’s true, but MOST often it’s not.
    You have to be able to be happy alone before you are going to meet the right person and have a good relationship. No one can make you happy. You have to be happy, first. It took me a long time to learn that lesson, and I spent five years in a relationship where we were doing all the things you do, acquire pets, buy a house…but WE were going nowhere. After we broke up, I was single for awhile, and then met my husband.
    And something about motherhood, hitting your thirties…you just DGAF as much anymore, and there’s a freedom in that. It helps you live your life for yourself (and family) when you don’t give a shit about what other people think of you, or your decisions. I wish I’d learned that or practiced that earlier in my life.
    Trust your intuition. True for so many things, but really great when you have kids and you are wading through 3,000 different theories about sleep training or whatever. Pick any topic, there’s a hundred different opinions. You just have to do what feels best for you and your family.

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    • SLS May 17, 2016, 12:31 pm

      “You have to be able to be happy alone before you are going to meet the right person and have a good relationship. No one can make you happy. You have to be happy, first.” – this has been a MANTRA of mine for two of my close friends for the past year. One is learning; one is a work in progress. This bit of advice is the best thing I learned for myself about 5 years ago!

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      • Anonymousse May 17, 2016, 12:52 pm

        Thanks! It is so true.

    • Anonymousse May 17, 2016, 12:51 pm

      Also, guzzle a huge glass of water when you wake up.
      I’ve been doing this for about two weeks, and I feel a lot more awake and alive in the mornings.

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      • Nookie May 18, 2016, 5:51 am

        Yeah because you’ve got to pee like the dickens!

  • for_cutie May 17, 2016, 12:13 pm

    Always wear moisturizer, and apply it to your neck too. I started in my 20s and it has worked for me so far. I see people will great face and wrinkly necks and think – they must have forgotten to protect their necks! At least I will age consistently as I get older. Shallow advice I know, but helpful!

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    • Anonymousse May 17, 2016, 12:52 pm

      And chest! And sunscreen!

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      • SpaceySteph May 17, 2016, 8:49 pm

        Sunscreen for sure! I wear SPF 50 on my face and neck every day.

        A few weeks ago my husband’s parents were in town and we went out to the water for the day. His mom (wearing foundation) and I (wearing my moisturizer with SPF 50) didn’t get sunburnt. My husband and his father both were red-faced. My husband rarely burns, and usually turns down sunscreen. After that he’s like “next time, maybe I’ll take you up on it.”

      • for_cutie May 18, 2016, 9:50 am

        What brand sunscreen do you use? I haven’t found an SPF 50 yet that I can comfortably wear all day. I currently mix an SPF 15 facial moisturizer with my foundation before I apply, but headed into summer I know I need more than SPF 15 for daily wear.

      • Stonegypsy May 18, 2016, 10:19 am

        Neutrogena Dry Touch is super comfortable. I get the SPF 75+ and it is really effective and not at all greasy. I love it

      • Anonymousse May 18, 2016, 1:20 pm

        I would reccomend going to ewg.org and looking around over there.
        I really like thinkbaby sunscreens. They are mineral but aren’t as white when applied, or the badger sunscreen lotion is nice and not white, or even the mychelle sunscreens for face mineral, not white and good ingredients! Coola has some “matte” versions of their sunscreen that are highly reccomended on some beauty blogs.
        Neutrogena is actually not rated very high as for efficacy and good ingredients.

  • girltuesday May 17, 2016, 12:17 pm

    From my mother, I came to her with a work issue and fretting about pissing people off by being firm and honest with a problem I needed to solve. I was seriously SO concerned about ruffling feathers.

    My mom, the tough lady that she is, peered at me over her glasses and said, “girltuesday, nobody worries about pissing you off.” By taking that pressure off and realizing that it’s just business, and not personal, helped me A TON and helped me be taken more seriously.

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    • Anonymousse May 17, 2016, 1:26 pm

      I love this.

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  • TeacherGirl May 17, 2016, 12:18 pm

    Best advice: Simply be kind. Don’t name-call; it’s unnecessary and adds little, if anything (and if that’s the only way you have to feel better about things, well…I dunno, find something more creative). 🙂

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  • ktfran May 17, 2016, 12:34 pm

    The one thing my parents instilled in me at a very young age is that politeness goes a long way. I always say please and thank you and you’re welcome. I say it to waitstaff, bus drivers, friends, coworkers, sales clerks, the stranger who actually took the time to hold the door instead of letting it slam in my face.

    My cousin once told me to eat a banana before bed after a long night of drinking. I do that and try to drink water. One or both usually helps!…. When I remember that is.

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    • MaterialsGirl May 17, 2016, 12:35 pm

      same thing here! “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”

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      • Kate May 17, 2016, 4:14 pm

        My mom told me to start out polite and nice, and only start freaking out and/or crying when that fails. This SUPER applies to airline gate agents, who have the power to do anything for you, or totally fuck you. Start out as sweet as pie. I learned that the hard way and now I’m on an American Airlines watch list and wasted a day of my life on standby.

    • girltuesday May 17, 2016, 12:53 pm

      YES. You would be surprised on how many people ignore the janitor who cleans our office park’s bathrooms. I am very lucky to work with great people who stop and ask her how her day is, hold open the door for her, catch up with her. Politeness and being friendly are huge. You never know when you can brighten someone’s day.

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    • Lynn May 17, 2016, 4:42 pm

      Yep. I’ve always been taught to be kind and to not seek accolades when doing something kind or generous. That’s not to say I’ve never been rude to someone, but generally speaking, I try my best to treat those around me the way I would like to be treated and be genuine about it.

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    • Cleopatra Jones May 18, 2016, 11:49 am

      Yep, you just never know who really has the power to impact your life in a positive or negative way. Even the person cleaning my office has the power to make me miserable by not emptying my trash or not cleaning the restroom. So I’m super polite to everyone.

      Also, people in lower paid/service positions have the best dirt on people. You’d be surprised at what they know because people don’t even realize they are around.
      I’ve learned the most ‘interesting’ things about people at my company from service people.

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  • MaterialsGirl May 17, 2016, 12:35 pm

    From my Gramma: Have three things you are involved in outside of work and family. One should be for others, one should for your betterment, and one should be just for you. I have followed this rule and it has been a very positive thing for me. Sometimes the activities or groups could be considered others/betterment or betterment/me, but it has been a solid piece of advice that I know she follows to this day. Keeps her active, improving and helpful to others.

    Another piece of advice that I’ve followed is to take my makeup off everynight and moisturize and use sunscreen. Also started that in college and I can definitely you what a difference it has made.

    Do not put off til tomorrow what you can do today. Seriously. Seriously Seriously.

    Uh: Don’t burn bridges. Huge, especially when it applies to work

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    • Nookie May 18, 2016, 6:25 am

      Wow, that’s a big order.. three things! I’m going to think on this and see if I can come up with something for the betterment of others and something just for me. Hmmm… I’d like to do some more volunteering, but between work and university commitments it’s hard to find something that fits.

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      • MaterialsGirl May 18, 2016, 1:28 pm

        You could also do two and group them up! The areas I give back to are for my university and sorority which could also be seen as networking

  • kare May 17, 2016, 12:35 pm

    Advice I follow from my mom: sunscreen. I’m only in my twenties, but I can definitely tell the difference between my skin and my friends that use tanning beds.

    Random advice I found online that I try to follow: don’t worry about finding a guy or where you are in comparison to everyone else. Focus on your credit score and everything else will fall into place.

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  • othy May 17, 2016, 12:56 pm

    Don’t spend more money than you have. If you want it, save up for it and you’ll appreciate it more.

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  • SailBobo May 17, 2016, 1:03 pm

    Not so much advice, but a coping mechanism I use. I was late to something one time, and I was anxious. I looked at the clock and thought, “Well, whatever I do, it’s still 12:52” … It made me laugh a little. It reminded me that I have to accept the time it is, not the time I wish it was (in the deep metaphysical sense) … Now whenever I’m stressed I make up little silly rhymes to help me cope … (and it barely bothers me that nobody gets it, or finds it funny, but me.)

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  • Maisie May 17, 2016, 1:22 pm

    My grandma gave me two sage pieces of advice:

    “Find yourself a couple of rich men” and “Don’t have kids – they’re a pain in the ass.”

    I miss her.

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    • d2 May 18, 2016, 3:52 pm

      I like that one rich man was not enough!

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  • em May 17, 2016, 1:25 pm

    love, love LOVE this thread! Best advice/sayings I’ve followed:
    *It is easier to avoid temptation than to resist it.
    *People are usually “loudest” about what they are personally insecure about. (ex, I make it a point to seem tough and unapproachable IRL but really I am a giant softie who cries at commercials and Disney shorts.)
    *Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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    • csp May 18, 2016, 7:28 am

      Love the first one! It is much easier to not order the pizza than order it and say ‘I will have one slice”

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  • Kay May 17, 2016, 1:27 pm

    Best advice: Don’t judge by what you see through windows.
    Basically, everyone likes to shoot off about other people’s relationships. They’re not in the relationship, so they don’t know what’s really going on. It’s like judging a family dinner by what you see through the window, but you’re not there, so you really can’t make an honest assessment. You know what works for you, not what others tell you what works for you. I try to recall that every time someone tells me my LDR won’t work. It works for my relationship; it may not have worked for them, but they aren’t in the relationship.

    Worse: Only write what you know.
    Basically of the context of “you never worked at X, therefore you can’t write about it.” Pretty sure J.K. Rowling didn’t attend a magical boarding school, though…

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    • honeybeenicki May 17, 2016, 1:36 pm

      You don’t know, she might have attended a magical boarding school 😉

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      • Nookie May 18, 2016, 8:56 am

        England is lousy with magical boarding schools.

  • K May 17, 2016, 1:27 pm

    My dad says “Your cheapness will always cost you.” Not that you have to buy expensive items, but if you buy something important at a cheap price, you may often regret it later. Of course, this doesn’t apply to things where quality isn’t as much of a concern. But I often find myself thinking “Dad was right!” Like when I bought a Wal-Mart brand frying pan that didn’t last long, or inexpensive sheets that developed holes in them right away.

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    • csp May 18, 2016, 7:26 am

      this is so true. I think it is more about quality than cost.

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      • K May 19, 2016, 12:54 pm

        Funnily enough, both of my parents used this phrase while talking to me within a day of me posting this! My parents are divorced but my mom still uses some of my dad’s phrases, I guess.

  • honeybeenicki May 17, 2016, 1:35 pm

    My favorite piece of advice is “Make shit happen” – basically that you can’t stand around and wait for things to happen to/for you. If you want something, you need to make it happen.

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  • marynn May 17, 2016, 2:20 pm

    I read this on an Eric Barker post I think “Good enough is almost always good enough”. I tell that to myself a lot when I’m fretting about work, and/or papers for college… I’m very anxious, competitive, a perfectionist, so if I don’t get something done *perfectly* it’s hard for me to let it go… Somehow I find this quote soothing in those moments of anxiety.
    I have wondered if loving it so much will turn me into a mediocre person… but it’s really calming for when I’m spiralling because I didn’t get much done for school. Mostly, it has proved true.

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    • Kate May 17, 2016, 4:11 pm

      My grandfather always said that, apparently (“Good enough is good enough.”). He passed before I was born, but I read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” a year or so ago, and I thought he must have read it, based on things my dad said that his dad would say. He was a Harvard Biz School grad and a really smart and good guy who did half the housework way before that was a thing. I wish I’d known him.

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    • SailBobo May 18, 2016, 7:10 am

      “Perfect is the death of done …”

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  • TheRascal May 17, 2016, 2:53 pm

    “Work will never love you back.”

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    • K May 17, 2016, 3:27 pm

      I love this!

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      • TheRascal May 18, 2016, 11:08 am

        K, it’s a nice reminder for work-life balance. I have told myself this over and over! And now, I tell it to my assistant.

  • GertiethDino May 17, 2016, 3:09 pm

    “Don’t mix your liquor” – my father’s advice when he moved me up to my first dorm in college. Sound advice, I’ve always followed it.

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    • SLS May 17, 2016, 3:19 pm

      to add: “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. beer before liquor, makes you sicker”

      I have some theories on why this work…but it has been sound advice for my more youthful collegiate years. That being said “not mixing alcohols” has been the post-college adaptation to this rule and it definitely is sound advice!

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  • va-in-ny May 17, 2016, 3:17 pm

    The best piece of advice I’ve gotten in regards to group functions is “you are not responsible for everyone else’s good time”.

    That has helped me curb the anxiety I feel about making sure everyone is happy and content at events, which would usually mean I was the one not having any fun. Now, I am able to enjoy myself, just because I realize that if someone isn’t having a good time or isn’t participating, it usually has nothing to do with me.

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  • veritek33 May 17, 2016, 3:17 pm

    “There’s an asshole in every bunch. Don’t be the asshole.” – Grandma

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    • keyblade May 17, 2016, 3:22 pm

      This isn’t really advice but it’s a related add-on that keeps things in perspective:
      “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and everyone’s stinks but yours. “

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      • veritek33 May 17, 2016, 3:26 pm

        She was fond of that quote too. Grandma really didn’t like assholes 😉

  • va-in-ny May 17, 2016, 3:29 pm

    Oh! Another one that I like is to remember that we often judge other people on their actions, while we tend to judge ourselves on our intent. I think that trying to flip that mindset helps to deal with conflict.

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    • Cleopatra Jones May 18, 2016, 11:55 am

      A co-worker of mine recently said, “everyone wants the rules enforced until it applies to them’.
      So very true.

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  • jamie5015 May 17, 2016, 3:34 pm

    From my dad:
    Start saving for retirement now, even if you think you can’t afford it. (Got it)
    On student loans: pay the accumulating interest, even if you don’t have to make payments (deferment, forbearance, etc). – wish I had listened, paying for it now.

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  • Bondgirl May 17, 2016, 3:57 pm

    I absolutely love this thread. So much good feedback.

    Not necessarily advice but more like something I was told but only finally caught on about 3-4 years later….when life throws you struggles, just handle it one day at a time. Celebrate the small daily victories and really own them. Over time those small wins will accumulate and that’s when results start happening. Hugely helpful in my constant struggles with anxiety.

    One mantra I like following now is simply, “one thing at a time.”

    Cliche but true. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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  • FannyBrice May 17, 2016, 3:57 pm

    I tend to agonize over decisions, especially big ones, and someone once told me “there are very few decisions that you cannot unmake.” Some things are easier to undo (starting a class, going on a date) and some things are much harder (moving cross country, marriage) but it is still possible to undo them. It was, literally, life changing to hear that.

    My other favorite is: Just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.

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    • Nookie May 18, 2016, 8:58 am

      Yes, I use something similar often: Nothing lasts forever, basically it means to me that you can always change your mind. It could be difficult, but you can do it.

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  • Jane63 May 17, 2016, 4:15 pm

    Advice I give to my daughter and grand daughter:

    Just because it fits doesn’t mean you should wear it.

    My Mom use to tell me:

    Keep putting one foot in front of the other – you never know where you will end up.

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  • Kate May 17, 2016, 4:28 pm

    Learning how to do “The Kindly Brontosaurus” and practicing it is a great piece of advice:


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  • inkyboots May 17, 2016, 4:37 pm

    If you spend $750 on an item that used to cost $1000, you didn’t save $250. You spent $750.

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  • Ktfran May 17, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Ooh… Can we have a bad advice topic of the day next week? And did people follow or no and what happened?

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  • Dear Wendy May 17, 2016, 6:40 pm

    These are great! So much good advice. More, more!

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  • Paki May 17, 2016, 6:47 pm

    My Dad as I went away to college… “Don’t let anyone mix you a drink that you can’t see” great advice, especially as my parents aren’t really drinkers.

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  • mrmidtwenties May 17, 2016, 7:18 pm

    “Let the tool work for you” was something my dad always said while he was alive, usually when using some sort of power tool. Since becoming an adult I see a lot more wisdom in this quote and it really is a great piece of advice for many situations.

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    • Kate May 17, 2016, 7:24 pm

      My dad always says you need the right tool for the job, and then he actually has it. Like needle nose pliers or a hatchet. It applies in any situation, like you say. What’s the right tool for this particular job, you know? With my current boss, for example, I found out I have to be like, super excited!!!! A super excited attitude is the right tool for communicating with her.

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  • FannyBrice May 17, 2016, 10:50 pm

    When I left for college, my dad told me “men are like the subway. If you miss one, there’s another one 5 minutes later.” And he was right!

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    • Cordelia Anne Shirley May 18, 2016, 7:29 am

      When I left for college, my dad said, “If a boy buys you a Long Island Iced Tea…it’s not iced tea.” That was his only advice! *laugh/cry emoji*

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  • JoWino May 18, 2016, 12:48 am

    This is more so a quote, but I live by it every day!

    “It’s no use to go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then” Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

    I am pretty sure everyone gets the idea, but I take from it two things. One, do not dwell on the past. Two, and more importantly, every day you have a new chance to “start over” and be a better person than you were the day before. I keep this quote on my monitor at work and in my wallet just in case I need a glance to remind myself that tomorrow is gone and today will be better.

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  • Not A Princess May 18, 2016, 7:27 am

    “Be you and be okay with it”. It’s the ending line of a much longer quote and it has done wonders for my self-acceptance and image.

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  • Lianne May 18, 2016, 8:20 am

    The best advice I ever received was from one of my mentors at work and it is appropriate in both personal and professional life: “If you come to someone with a problem, have a proposed solution, too.”

    This has definitely helped to further my career and set me apart from others in my company who look for someone else to fix their problems. This also can be good when you have bad news to share with someone in your personal life – having the foresight to address the bad news in the same conversation can show that you care and want to help.

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  • Michelle May 18, 2016, 9:24 am

    If it’s not a heck yes, it’s a no.

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  • Stonegypsy May 18, 2016, 10:20 am

    “No one is paying as much attention to you as you think they are. They’re too busy worrying about how much attention you’re paying them”

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  • Stonegypsy May 18, 2016, 10:33 am

    Oh! And my dad always used to say “Life will be a lot easier if you’re friendly and you tip well”

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  • snoopy128 May 18, 2016, 12:04 pm

    CYB- Cover your butt.
    This advice has applied so much more professionally- but essentially in all situations, make sure you have your own bases covered. Have proof or a factual trail of evidence behind the decisions or actions you took. Once your own (or your team’s) butt is covered, you can move forward more productively an any situation.

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  • vixky89 May 18, 2016, 10:08 pm

    “If someone wants to be with you, they will act like they want to be with you.”
    My best friend told me this nearly 10 years ago when we had just started university. Seems simple enough, but to a hormone-infused teenage girl who specialized in reading into things too much it was the jolt of clarity I needed.
    Too bad it took a few years for it to really sink in.

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  • MacGuffin May 19, 2016, 7:34 am

    If you notice something wrong about someone’s appearance, don’t say anything unless there’s a way they can fix it. For example, if your friend’s dress is more sheer than she realized and you can see her undies, don’t say something then unless there’s a way to cover that up. If you bring it up and it’s too late for her to change or conceal, she’ll just feel self-conscious all night.

    From my dad:
    Never paint brick; it never works out.

    Never wear green plastic crap or drink green beer on St. Patrick’s day.

    Never pass a little kid’s lemonade stand without stopping to buy and say an encouraging word.

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  • SK May 22, 2016, 7:24 pm

    I first dated a couple, not realizing this was dating and thought it was more friends with benefits. Then I dated a prostitute thinking this was a better situation. Then I dated a guy who was basically dating his mother. As you can imagine, all of my friends and therapist advised me of the series of poor decisions. But I am so stubborn! This was years ago and now if I want that kind of excitement, I stick to reading these letters. I wish I was making this up. And many of the details are quite ridiculous as well. When I write my memoir it’ll definitely be a comedy =)

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  • allathian November 13, 2018, 5:00 am

    When I first started dating my dad said something like ‘Pay attention to how your date treats waitstaff, bus drivers and other service people. If he’s nice even when he has nothing to gain by it, he’ll probably treat you well.’

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