Recently, while I was working at a short term, temp job, I was paired to work with females much younger than I. That was because there was no one anywhere near my age working there.
We were setting up a brand new store before its Grand Opening. From overflowing boxes, we pulled out accessories which we unwrapped and set on shelves.
It was a new experience for me. I’ve never helped to set up shop any where. It was an interesting, though tedious process.
But the job was easy enough. All that unwrapping and breaking down of boxes placed us in close proximity of each other. As we worked together, the girls talked.
And I listened.
That was a new experience for me as well. Usually I feel compelled to tell my own long-winded stories.
But this time I just listened.
And, oh, how those college aged girls and young women in their 20s and 30s did talk! They talked about their boyfriends, husbands, children and all sorts of trials and tribulations.
After five days together, the “girls” began to share some very personal things about their lives. Several of them talked about their future plans and their hopes and dreams. One talked about her boyfriend cheating on her. One talked about a husband with a DUI arrest.
Having lived twice as long as most of them, I could have given them some advice.
I could have said, “You should dump that cheating rascal. And you should make your old man go to rehab or AA. And make sure you also know how to wait tables because your plans to be a microbiologist might not pan out, considering you said you just failed biology this semester for the second time.”
But I didn’t. It’s not that I didn’t care. It’s just that my commentary is not necessary for all situations.
Because even though the girls I was working with and the girl I used to be had a lot in common, their journey is not my journey. They’re just at the beginning of theirs. And I’m over half-way through with mine.
In fact, I’ve topped the hill and I’m kind of coasting down it right now.
Those girls will learn what they need to learn. They don’t need me to tell them.
One thing I have learned on my life’s journey is that most people don’t listen to the advice that I’m prone to share so freely. And most of them don’t need it. I’m usually the only one who thinks they do.
It’s hard to keep your mouth shut when you think you know all the answers, but try it anyway.