Amy Roberts: Sound advice
I was recently asked to fill out a little questionnaire about myself so I could be introduced light-heartedly at an upcoming work function. One of the questions on the form was: "What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?"
I had a tough time filling this one out. Mostly because there are so many answers. There’s the best relationship advice, career advice, life advice, financial advice and of course, the best advice I regretfully never actually followed. Which one was the best?
When I was in high school and struggling with a group of mean girls and confessed to my mom I wanted to put snakes in their lockers, I remember my mom telling me, "How people treat you is their karma. How you react to it is yours."
When my very first boyfriend dumped me for one of those mean girls, leaving me heartbroken, my older sister told me, "Don’t worry. Boys are like a bus. There’s another one right around the corner."
When I graduated from college and was technically on my own, my dad said to me, "Whatever you do, never, never, never co-sign on a loan for anyone. Especially not a boyfriend."
Over the years I’ve been advised to "Live my life in such a way that the Westboro Baptist Church pickets my funeral," and to "Never trust someone who pours milk in the bowl before the cereal." And, after confessing to a friend who was a mother of two-year-old twins I wasn’t sure I wanted kids, I got this gem from her: "Having kids is a lot like getting a tattoo on your forehead. Make damn sure you want it before you go ahead with it."
I could probably have my own line of fortune cookies considering all the advice I’ve gotten over the years. But, as I held my pen over this questionnaire, I thought about the one piece of advice I’d received in the past that’s most applicable to my life right now: "Try to care just a little bit less."
I got this advice 15 years ago from my first boss in TV news. We were having lunch about a month after he retired and I was explaining to him how the station had fallen apart since he left. I was frustrated and mad about everything. The new news director didn’t renew the contract of our best anchor. He was a micromanager and wanted to read every script before it aired. He was in such a hurry to be first with breaking news that half the time we were running retractions later because we were live before we could confirm things. He changed the set, lowered the wardrobe allowance and modified the station’s logo.
On and on my list of grievances went. And that’s when my old boss took a sip of his Coke, stared at me from across the table and said, "Amy, you need to care just a little bit less."
I was shocked. All I did was care. I thought that’s why he’d hired me.
He went on to point out that I was working myself into a tizzy over decisions that weren’t mine to make. I was angry about things I couldn’t control. I wasn’t even angry they were happening, I was just angry I couldn’t control them. To which I replied, "I’m not a control freak, I just like to show everyone the right way to do things."
I got that "care a little less" advice a long time ago, and honestly haven’t given it much thought since. I’m Type A and I always have a list of perceived injustices.
But the past couple weeks, I’ve found myself being a bit too outraged about things again. I’ve been mad about the Kimball leaving Main Street. Mad about a moose being shot by a hiker, mad about someone not keeping a promise to me, mad about the lady who yelled at me for letting my dog "sniff" her, mad I got a parking ticket, mad about a zillion things that weren’t even remotely in my control. And I once again thought about the advice I got years ago at an Applebee’s outside of Dallas.
Perhaps it’s time I take it.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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