Back in my early twenties, I got a lot of unsolicited career advice. Much of it was well-meaning and from a kind place. But much of it was also genuinely terrible and so far out of the realm of what I wanted to do with my life it was kind of absurd. With women, I’ve noticed, that advice tends to take the form of terrible articles on the Internet. So instead of telling you what to do with your life, here’s what to do to tell your parents, co-workers, etc. that it’s your life, not theirs.
Remember That Much Career Advice Is Centered Around The Idea You’ll Be A Mom
One of the most commonly unspoken phrases appended to every piece of career advice given to women is “…before you have babies.” It’s really surprising how many people seem convinced that, in the modern day, when jobs are important and the idea of the single-income household is largely a joke to most Americans, that moms will just drop out of the workforce. It doesn’t work that way. Hearing it from your Grandma is one thing; hearing it from your boss is something else again.
Another common code phrase is “…before the age of 35…” because people believe that horribly inaccurate myth that you’ll pop out a circus freak if you dare get pregnant at 36. Either way, you see anything that reeks of this? Ignore it.
Thank Them And Ignore It
If it’s something bland and generic, like “You should go to graduate school!”, you can just say “I’ll think about that!” and then promptly forget about it. Sure, you should explore your options, but if you know in your gut that, say, getting a master’s degree isn’t for you, then you should probably focus on other options.
If They Get Insistent, Be Honest
For some reason, women seem to get pressed on whether or not they’ve followed career advice. If you find yourself in this situation, be honest. Say that you’re happy they care, but that their advice won’t work for a few basic reasons. Leave “I don’t wanna” off the list.
This is enough for most people, excepting family members, who are still giving me career advice. Sadly, when it comes to them, the best I can offer is changing the subject.