Since last post, two things have changed.
1) I have a girlfriend.
2) I have received no new letters.
Both of those things have contributed to me updating this less.
Number Two makes a difference for obvious reasons. Number One has just made me think a little differently.
I'll put it this way: I went from thinking, "I'm good at this," to, "I'm actually clueless," to realizing that just because I'm not excellent at relationships doesn't mean I have no good advice to offer others.
For much of my life, I've been able to come up with the right things to say - not just the most comforting things, but the things that challenge people in the right ways - to many people with more experience than myself. I haven't changed too much- it's just that I'm now discovering more than ever how incongruous a person's ability to give helpful (I'm attempting to eliminate the phrase "good advice" from the English lexicon. I don't believe that advice has inherent value. Only varying degrees of helpfulness.) advice can be with their ability to take good care of themselves.
That incongruity used to floor me. When confronted with it, it used to make me think one of two things, depending on the situation:
1) I'm an idiot and my opinions are worthless!
2) Since I'm smart, if things don't work out the way I thought they would, it must be the other person's fault!
Both are wrong. But like most wrong things, they are very easy to believe.
I guess what I believe now is this:
1) Most advice is worth listening to, but only about 15% of what most people will tell us will be helpful to our unique situations, and if all of us, both when we're in the advice-giving role and in the being-advised role, accept that, then we will probably learn a whole lot.
2) Being clumsy in a relationship doesn't disqualify a person from giving advice to anyone else. If that were the case, most psychiatrists would probably get fired.