FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

feature image includes advice from Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Alright y’all. It’s Friday, and it’s been a heartbreakingly difficult week. I have no words for the things we’ve witnessed across the United States over the past seven days. More vicious hateful terrorism and mass scale loss of life at the hands of white supremacists. The largest Immigration raid this country has seen in a decade. Toni Morrison leaving this broken world she helped so many cope with behind. Watching the death toll of this country rise so rapidly in real time with no end in sight, just thoughts and prayers floating off into nothingness. Things are bleak by default as it is, and to add the weight of all this is just so much to bear and, well, it’s got me and a whole lot of you too real fucked up. Hopeless is not a word I would generally use to describe myself but it’s the truth of how I’ve felt at times this week.

I’ve been doing everything in my power to care for myself and those I love in a deep intentional way this week. I’ve filled baths with tears and bellies with meals. Spent hours cleaning my apartment and massaging my scalp with coconut oil. Plus lots of check-ins, phone calls, and texts with my friends and community and LOTS of giving advice. It seems like everyone is looking for something to do, or try, or say to cope and breathe and have the courage to live here. We’re all just trying to survive and support each other through giving and receive advice so I figured, why not crowdsource? This is a time where all forms of encouragement whether tough love, soft love, reminders of truth and power, or reminders that everything is temporary are needed and wanted, so I wanna know what the best advice you’ve ever received or simply have to share is.

It doesn’t have to be related to the political climate of the U.S. of course (though I’m obviously here for it if it is), just tell me a bit of wisdom that’s impacted your life in a helpful way. That’s made it easier to get through the hard days and twists and turns of life, brought a smile to your face, or helped you take on something that seemed previously insurmountable. Or advice that helped you grow into the amazing queer person you are today that you’d like to pass along to someone else. Give me quotes and stories and book chapter references. Give me and everyone else in here a little hope.

Maybe it’s your favorite Toni Morrison passage or a parent/child moment you cherish in adulthood. Maybe it’s a moment of true friendship like the one I’m thinking of from 2012 when I was fresh out of college, so lost as to who I was or where I was going, and doubting myself at every turn. I was drunk at a party and made some self-deprecating comment as I tended to do at that time, and without hesitation my friend Kenzie stopped me. She sighed, made the most intense queer loving eye contact I’d ever received at the time and said, “There are far too many incredible women in the world that have no idea how incredible they truly are. Don’t be one of them.”

I’ve thought about that moment, that advice, and that truth almost weekly for the past seven years. It changed everything about the way I lived my life moving forward and I’m so grateful for that whiskey washed moment on a back porch in West Philly because it landed me where I am today. It shifted something in me in the most powerful way. It gave me something to strive for and aspire to, and once I reached that place, an anchor to steady myself and reach out a hand to pull others along. One piece of good advice can change the world, so show me what you’ve got in the comments below. I can’t wait to have my life changed by the brilliance I know this community is capable of.

Chin up, loves.


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Reneice Charles is a just another queer, liberal, woman of color using the Internet to escape from reality and failing miserably. She received her MSW from New York University and is an Entrepreneur and Vocalist living in Los Angeles. She spends her spare time wishing she didn't have to use her spare time convincing people that everyone deserves the same basic human rights.

Reneice has written 92 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. That was beautiful advice from your friend Kenzie.

    The two best pieces of advice:

    1) “Be gentle with yourself.” Which I first heard from an older queer woman when I was coming out. My first reaction, and my reaction for years afterward was like, “Oooh okay with your hippy nonsense!” But I’ve heard it reiterated (usually from older queer women) and eventually it sunk in. The mindset weirdly works and makes me actually a kinder person.

    2) “Not making a decision is making a decision.”

    • These are both so important. If I could tell everyone in my life every single day to be gentle with themselves I would. I totally hear you on it taking time to sink in how precious that advice is. It’s also something I come back to regularly in moments of disappointment. I’m curious, did the second piece of advice come to/from you in a moment that was somehow related to indecisiveness? It’s something that I’ve said but only in that capacity so just wondering if you have a similar or different perspective!

        • This might not be particularly deep or popular advice, but it helped me nonetheless.

          When I was deciding what my major would be in university one of my teachers said the following:

          “University is for 4 or 5 years, your career for 40”.

          I chose the major with the more interesting career options and do not regret that one bit, even though the actual university part was less fun.

  2. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from my mother, which is strange because we normally don’t have that kind of relationship. I was debating about whether or not to make a career change and I was bemoaning how long it would take, that by the time I was ready to start working in this new career I’d be 30 years old.
    And she said, “Well, you’re going to be 30 years old either way, so you might as well be doing what you want.”

    And now I think about that any time I’m discouraged by the amount of time something takes.

  3. “As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else or yourself, do what you want with your life, that’s the healthiest thing” – my mother when I was ill with anxiety. I spent my childhood/youth striving towards perfection, the perfect job, perfect bank balance, perfect education etc. Where I failed I felt very upset. When I was searching for a job, nobody wanted me (because I’m autistic I think, everything else was there including my MA, or it might have been lack of jobs at the time). It made me very ill to the point where I couldn’t leave the house.

    I still don’t have a job but I can do things. I can go out. I’m living in a town where I’m happy and content. I do productive things with my time. Because I’m still living for myself rather than to strive to any one ‘ideal’.

    • Wow, yeah this is SO important. As a fellow anxious perfectionist, and as a black queer woman in this world that constantly has expectations for my life this really resonates with me. I tend to keep little quotes around to help me combat those feelings of needing to perform to impossible standards and allow myself to just be how I want to be. Definitely adding this one to the list! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you for this Reneice.

    The best piece of advice I’ve received was from the mother of my former best friend when I was in my twenties.

    I forget what the problem I was going through was but I remember her advice which was to talk with someone else who’d gone through the same thing or something similar.

    Ah. I think it was a grad school related problem . And talking with classmates who were ahead of me helped a lot. It’s advice that I’ve applied it to all sorts of situations.

    Ive also shared this advice a lot. I tend to get a little panicky when asked for advice and more than once I’ve started to say that I don’t know what they should do and then I remember that I actually do know.

    They should talk with someone who’s experienced the same thing. I suggested it to a colleague who was fighting with her boss. She talked with people with her role in other departments and got a much better sense of what was and was not reasonable and how to talk with her boss AND she came back and thanked me for my great advice.

    The other piece of advice I use and share a lot is from my mother uoting her favorite teacher.

    Of course you’re going to make mistakes. But that’s ok because you’re going to fix them.

  5. I was home at a family/family friend gathering right after college and getting ready to move on to grad school. I was 22 and had spent the majority of my life with major eating disorder/body image/self image issues. An older woman in my mom’s circle of friends commented to me (with no real context), “Just don’t waste these years hating yourself and your body, I wasted a decade doing that and now I look back on those pictures and can’t believe I didn’t realize how beautiful I was.”

    It was truly the beginning of a shift for me. A mantra has become “You can’t hate yourself into loving yourself” and sometimes I check in with myself and ask: in ten years will this treatment of myself make me better or worse?

  6. not exactly “Best Advice Ever Received” but

    A) i saw someone say “eat a banana, drink some water, and spent some time outside” and that trifecta is surprisingly restorative if you’re in a situation where you cant do part B.

    B) clean your house and then reward your self with a bath. in my case, i ate three indica edibles first. i lay in the warm water and read Her Body and Other Parties (also highly recommend). i will definitely be repeating this ritual next time i have an alone time night

  7. From a few years ago…
    Creating distance isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes the space between is so close that it can’t be reached across.

    From my Uncle CP:
    Fuck them if they bring little or nothing but gristle to the table but always expect you to be full and/or satisfied.

  8. This is less of an advice, but a few weeks ago was listening to a podcast that had Alok as a guest on. They said something to the effect that, how you survive and navigate through the world is its own form of art. I think they also said they want to hear these stories too. It kind of changed my line of thinking. That some of us, survival is our skill & art.

    How is everyone’s week going? At the moment I’d rather be in bed than at work, but it has been okay considering the news. I went to a bike co-op last night and I am pretty where I am fairly sure I saw two butches of color and one them was helping what I think was her gf(?). It was nice. I also spent my Sunday at Cuties among friends, which was really needed. Plus, I had good tea and cookies.

    From my ride on Sunday afternoon at a lake near my house. I also found out that they were filming a few scenes from the upcoming season of AHS 1984. Sadly did not see Sarah Paulson or Angelica Ross, just a parking spot that said, Reserved Ryan Murphy that I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of.

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

    • I was on the same plane as Jessica Lange coming outta Louis Armstrong. Some people just look too glam in sunglasses for them to be an effective disguise.

      Oh um it might be weird but thank you for the pictures you post, it inspired me to start taking pictures again with a DSLR.
      Don’t think I’m ever going to be good at adjusting the camera to situations but I’m good enough at kenning in situ what I can do with current settings.

      • I like mines, as it keeps me from being distracted by my phone when outdoors. If you find yours big or could always swap for a more compact/jacket friendly(mines can be) model or upgrade to a newer phone if you can. Plus, editing apps have helped me straighten, and do whatever else adjustments I feel needed.

  9. There is two pieces of advice, mantras almost, that my mom drilled into my head from a very young age that gave me a whole different perspective than many of my friends on the world.

    1)She always told me to never be afraid to say no if someone asked me for a favor because “if you can’t say no, than your yes isn’t a gift”. Which was a blessed attitude to have at the age of 5 that if I did something I didn’t want to do that was kind, it was a gift, and if I didn’t do it, that was perfectly fine.

    2) Invest in good shoes, good glasses, and good bras because all other cheap clothes you can replace, but you can’t replace a good knees, good eyes, and a good back.

    These have been equally useful.

  10. This advice came from an illustrator’s instagram account (lol) but I found it really poignant and relevant to me. It’s: “You are worthy of the same love you give.” I feel like it’s sort of a flip on the “you accept the love you think you deserve” concept, which IMHO, has always very sort of victim blame-y.

  11. A year and a half ago I lost my partner of almost 10 years to an accidental drug overdose. Mind you, I had lost him long before that to his addiction, but that’s a whole other story.

    My beautiful counsellor told me that in order to heal your pain and anger, you have to give it space to move through your body. Suppressing it means it will stay in you like a cancer, but acknowledging it, feeling it and giving it room will lead to it being released as any other kind of energy.

    This was and continues to be an invaluable piece of wisdom that I am so grateful to have with me on my grief journey.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my brother under similar circumstances, and was given the same advice about grief. It has been, as you say, invaluable. Wishing you continued healing. <3

    • I lost a partner of 10 years to an overdose last November. Giving your grief room to move by not suppressing it is wonderful advice. I have learned to honor my feelings and be more gentle through this grief. I wish you loving peace.

  12. Weirdly it was from my Dad, who I generally disagree with, but I was doing post graduate teacher training that I hated and had decided I wasn’t going to go into teaching but I was still going to finish the course because in my mind I felt like I had to finish everything I started. All he did was point out that I didn’t need to finish it, which sounds obvious, but I needed to be told and it saved me months of stress and misery.

    Other then that I can’t pinpoint specific advice but more wisdom that I have accumulated and tweaked to work for me.

    One is that love and relationships don’t have to fit heteronormative partner for life who is more important than anyone else. I have been happier since I have been single and getting love/emotional fulfilment from friends.

    Also I love younger me, so when I’m feeling down on myself or down on life then I think about the fact that future me loves current me and wants me to look after myself.

    • I was told the same thing about books (there are more books in the world than you can ever read; don’t waste your time finishing ones you’re not drawn into) and I love the idea of applying it to other areas of life!

  13. A great piece of advice I picked up from a queer life coach: replacing “I have to” with “I choose to because.” So often we rob ourselves of joy by framing things as obligations – even things we like! “I have to go to this work meeting” gets emotionally lumped alongside “I have to go to my best friend’s birthday party.” But really, we’re not obligated to do *any*thing. We choose to do things, either because we want to or because we enjoy the consequences of not doing those things even less. (An example she used: I don’t *have to* pay my taxes. I choose to because I would rather pay taxes than go to jail.) So, I don’t have to go to my best friend’s birthday party; I choose to go because I love my friend and want to celebrate them! Works for pretty much any situation and gives you more power over your decisions.

  14. Love it, change it, or leave it.
    And
    Fear is the price you pay for adventure.
    The latter one is from “When Night is Falling”, but as someone who is terrified of flying and used to of riding trains, etc. it holds really well and true.

  15. I’ve been propping myself up with this Toni Morrison quote this week: “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game. ”

    Also today, in response to a comment about how somebody I know was “living the dream”, I heard him say “you’ve gotta build the life you want, man”. I think the biggest thing I’ve had to learn for myself as an adult is that whatever it is you want or need, it’s on you to reach for it. No one else is going to get it for you.

  16. “Your future needs you, your past doesn’t.”

    Not really advice, but this quote helped me realize that I need to stop over analyzing everything that has happened in the past year.

  17. As a sophomore in college I signed up for a 400 level geography class,when I had never taken any geography classes. I showed up on the first day and my classmates were 2 senior geography majors, 2 masters students in geography, and a PhD student in geography. I went to the professor afterward and admitted that I didn’t knt the meaning of a bunch of apparently important words and asked if she thought I should stay in the class. She told me, “my experience with honors students is that they can do whatever they decide they’re going to do.” I repeat that advice often to myself and now my own students (whether or not they’re honors students).

  18. I have been given so much good advice over my time, but here’s a few:
    1. From my mum and I am paraphrasing: ‘As a disabled person, there is no space to be mediocre, there is only space at the top or bottom of society. You have to outperform or no one will give you a chance’. It sounds harsh but it’s the reality and I am very grateful I was told directly from a young age.
    2. From a close friend: ‘Things aren’t always what they seem’. In other words, don’t jump to conclusions until you have the full story.
    3. From another friend: ‘The knowledge they have can be learnt, but the way you think and empathise cannot’.
    4. From a counsellor ‘If your best friend was facing the same problem, what would you say to them? Now, say that to yourself’. I saw it above but imagine how powerful we all would be if we were as kind to ourselves as we were to the ones we love.
    5. From CoStar (sorry had to): ‘ignoring fear will make you feel like something horrible is always around the corner. Talking about it can neutralise its power’.

  19. I’ve been given a lot of great advice by a lot of wonderful people over the years, but some notable things that have changed the course of (and sometimes saved) my life were:

    -You are not obligated to stay in a career that’s sucking your soul away even though you spent five years of schooling training for it

    -You don’t have to sacrifice your own wellbeing for someone else’s

    -You are allowed to set new boundaries in old relationships as you grow to know yourself better

  20. It’s not life advice, more of an adage that comes from a local food personality with a radio show about wondering if a food or ingredient is safe or not; take a good whiff and “When in doubt, throw it out!”

    Why I think I offered it is because he’s cognitively declining, you can’t hide a talk show host’s aphasia. We the public do not know what is causing his decline or how much longer we’ll have him, but with support he gets from his co-hosts and the station it’s longer than I think we’d get from something national. His love and passion for food is just unflagging and not mean.

    Also it’s good advice, food poisoning is more taxing on the body than hunger and can be more costly than buying a replacement. Missed hours, missed pay etc.

    I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover when I was under 18 and had never heard of the word or concept of ableism before but the 1st paragraph feels like life advice for our times right now

    “Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.
    The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes.
    It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles.
    We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
    (Live don’t just survive.)

    I don’t think myself a poet or a philosopher but I got a piece of life advice in regards to romance and friendship:
    Find someone you can split a pizza with. They don’t HAVE to like and dislike the same things as you do just have courtesy or tolerance of your likes and dislikes enough to split the cost of a food with you.

  21. As someone who’s been anxious forever and has, as a result tried to control as many of my interactions with the world as possible, always with limited success and increasingly large burdens of stress, hearing this very basic bit of advice was life changing.
    You can’t control everything! The only thing in your life that you have a hope of controlling is your Fundamental Orifice and you will find there are times when you can’t control that either. Relax and treat it all as an adventure.

  22. Best advice: “One third of people will love you, one third of people will be indifferent to you, and one third of people you meet will dislike you.” Makes it easier for me to say, “that person is in the 1/3rd of people who are indifferent or dislike me. NEXT!”

    And from my Mother: “To have poise, think this before you walk into a room: ‘I am beautiful, I am loved, and I have a secret.'” It works!!!

  23. Two nuggets from my ex-therapist who was amazing:
    1) You accept “flaws” and “mistakes” in those you love – why do YOU have to be perfect then?
    2) What if you did what you wanted to do, just because you wanted to? I.e. without any end goal or proving or striving to be something I’m not. (obvs this does not apply to behaviour that harms yourself or others!)

    And then my mum:
    “Maybe you shouldn’t have such a fixed idea of yourself”

    Thanks for sharing all your lovely advice! Really a lot to think about here.

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