When to listen to unwanted advice

Tired of hearing what you should be doing, and could be doing during COVID? There is an upside to taking unwanted advice, but it isn’t the 'down the hatch' remedy you thought.

I am prefacing this story by saying it is a 2-minute read, because we are all tired of digital philosophers. Remember when TLDR (Too long; didn’t read) was a thing – a kind of badge of honour for the contemporary browser?

Well I feel like it has mutated into a new kind of glaze, as we all face screen-burnout from this so-called digital pivotal we have had to embrace.

I just don’t think I am strong enough to face yet another advice story on how to cope with COVID-19 – regardless of how well intentioned or beneficial and sound that advice might be.

When we don’t like what we hear the instinct is to bite back. For others, it is bunker in and block it out – that “lah lah lah fingers-in-ears moment”. 

There is, however, good reason for taking unwanted advice.

Are you solution orientated?

If nothing else, coronavirus has forced us all to be more solution orientated. It sounds so corporate as an idea. But in truth, we always feel better when a solution to a problem has been reached.

Does that mean opening yourself to the advice of others and baring a thick skin? Not necessarily. What it does mean, is recognising that a current situation has to be changed, and that you have the will to do it.

The unwanted advice might be the trigger. Be thankful for that. Listen. But to truly move beyond any conflict, COVID-drama or drawback, you have to make that advice your own.

The cliché touted in 2020 is that it has allowed space for pause – a good old fashioned rethink.

Read: What to say when the news is all bad

Chatting with a colleague recently, she described these past months like living the film Inception, where the landscape was constantly shifting, unfamiliar, surreal and beyond control. Doesn’t really sound like the luxury of a pause – to languish over creative recalibration.

It made for a great film; but does it make for a great reality? In the arts we pride ourselves on being flexible and resilient – boy what overused words.  It is simply because we can’t afford to be otherwise.

Don’t succumb to sophomania (the delusion of having superior intelligence).

Lesson #1 here is, that unwanted advice isn’t so bad. Just don’t take it as advice. Think of it rather like that annoying piece of spinach in your teeth that you walk around all day with. Wouldn’t you prefer to know so you could fix it. Advice taken – thanks.

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina