I Don’t Know, It Depends: Wisdom from an Unwise Person For Lori

I have a Facebook page for The Big Blue Mess, which I don’t really go around advertising since it just mirrors my normal Facebook page and is mostly there to say, “Look, friends who read this thing. I made words with my hands again!” And if I’ve done my job and the FB algorithm gods ate the right sacrifice, my friends respond with, “yay!” usually via emojis or flat-out ignoring I did anything. I mean, nothing says “Loved it!” like that, right?!?! Anyway, it’s there and has about five followers – my true blog devotees. You go, my self-flagellating diehard fans. (Not to be confused with Die Hard fans, although there is likely some crossing over, because GREATEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER MADE, am I right???)

I digress.

This isn’t new.

So, last week, I alert the five and my personal feed about the writing of the words, and I received a question (and she agreed I could answer in a public forum – or at least on Facebook, which I mean, this will be posted on FB, so that counts, right?):

But I do have a legit question that I need a wise person to answer…why do I keep making the same mistake over and over again? How do I fix that? Be as hard and direct as you need to be!!


Before I dive into that or whether I’d make a good Dear, Abby (hint: I would not), let’s start with a serious disclaimer (where we put the joking hat aside) and where I state quite plainly that while I agree with they Hippocratic Oath, I have not taken it.

SERIOUS DISCLAIMER: Whether I’m wise or not is up for debate; however, what is absolutely not up for debate is the fact that I do not have, nor do I pretend to have, a background in psychology, psychiatry, or social work. I am not a licensed counselor.

But I am a friend, so I can offer thoughts from a friend.

So, to that end…

Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

Here’s my honest answer – the only true one I can offer you given the disclaimer above.

I don’t know.


It depends.

If we’re talking grammar, math, or using baking soda instead of salt (or something like that), I’d say there’s a chance that the person who taught you didn’t teach it in a way you understand. Find others – more than one – and have each of them teach you – have each of them explain in their own unique ways. Sometimes hearing information explained in different ways will allow you to find the one that just clicks with how your brain works – and will get you to that moment when everything falls into place and you arrive at that big ah-ha moment. (A truly great feeling!)

Of course, I suspect the question isn’t about comma splices (I’m a huge abuser), basic geometry (love it), or how not all white powders in the pantry work like baking soda (they don’t?? rude) so I’ll answer the best that I can given that my minor was in English and could have just as easily been in anthropology or philosophy. (Hey, I love ALL things Liberal Arts. Don’t judge.) Anyway…

Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

Honestly, I don’t know, it depends.

Without knowing the specifics, I’ll offer that I think we (the big “we” – the “all people” we) are drawn to things that are familiar to us – patterns – patterns we know – patterns we understand which form our baseline for what is “normal” (whether they’re actually normal or not). Once we’ve established our normal (again, for better or worse), change can be a challenge. We may not have the ability to recognize a need for change because what we’re doing/how we’re experiencing the world or interacting with it is “normal” to us.

How do I fix that? Be as hard and direct as you need to be!!

Ok, here’s my honest opinion. If you’re ready to tackle whatever it is leading you to make those same mistakes, then seek out and talk to a professional – someone who can help you identify your patterns and pitfalls and where things may be a big wonky (not a real medical term). Someone who has the training and can guide you down a path to create new patterns/new approaches/new normals. And if you meet with them a few times and it’s not working, then find someone else. If you don’t like the next person, find someone else. Keep trying until you find the person who works for you. As I mentioned above, sometimes it takes talking to multiple people before you find a person who can explain things in a way that just clicks/resonates with how you think.

You’re worth it.

There’s your wisdom from someone who strives to be wise but isn’t quite there, yet.


For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be wise. I wanted it more than I wanted to be a ballerina, a cheerleader, an architect, a mythologist (which my cousin once informed me wasn’t a job, thus dashing my pre-tween dreams – I’m looking at you, Tonya!), a star on Broadway and a (insert everything else a young girl can dream of becoming including quarterback because hey, I could outthrow most of the boys my age, wasn’t afraid to get messy and was always picked to be the captain in pickup games at school. Forget that I didn’t really get tackling, opting for the ol’ trip and shove to bring opponents down. No powderpuff leagues for this gal. I knew the NFL would make an exception – I mean, hello, it’s me!)

I wanted to be the person you could turn to and count on to provide thoughtful advice.

I want to be the person you can turn to and count on to provide thoughtful advice.

And for the most part, I’m friendly, likable, outgoing(ish), and approachable. (Great traits when you mentor, which I do. Terrible traits when you’re being leered at by the pest control guy who is waving a meaty paw at you saying, “I want all of that all over me. Would you be into that?” (Not kidding. True story. Also, what the actual… ARE YOU KIDDING ME? But, that’s another story for another day.)

Needless to say, when people ask for my advice it feeds my inner megalomaniacal narcissistic naval-gazing monster my dream of being thought of as wise.

So, there I was… (as all relatively mediocre stories start) sitting at my desk when this very sincere young fellow (YF) asks to sit down and get my opinion on a matter.

YF: Beth, do you have a second for me to get your advice?

Me: (SQUEALING LOUDLY ON THE INSIDE!!) Of course! What’s going on?

YF: I just need your opinion on something and it’s kind of serious.

Me: (Doing an internal awkward cabbage patch dance while holding imaginary pompons and trying to outwardly do my best to show a face of concern. ) Ok.

YF: One of the other guys came up to me and said something, and I just need your take.

Me: (thoughtful mm hmmms – GIRL, you are going to CRUSH this!)

YF: Well, he said there were donuts in the breakroom, and I went to look and there weren’t donuts…

Me: (Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….)

YF: Do you think he lied and was trying to trick me about the donuts to be mean? I know this sounds stupid.

Me: (Uhhh…) Nooooo

Internal voice: Maybe?? A little bit?? Donuts? Seriously??

Now, this conversation was more about the dynamics of their relationship than whether donuts were to be had and we talked this through it for a while.

BUT… I’m not going to lie, when I pictured myself as wise, I envisioned pilgrims ascending 1,000 steps (or more) hewn from the mountainside on which my temple/cloud condo was perched atop, a scenic overlook with some clear, spring-fed water babbling away somewhere as water is wont to do, maybe some incense, some big fluffy pillows, some bubble tea (because it’s fun to eat and drink), some genuflection, some “grasshopper, snatch the pebble from my hand” stuff. I never pictured life coaching on how to handle the disappointment of missing out on donuts. It’s like some genie with a wicked sense of humor said, “ok, you’ll be wise but your specialty will be confectionary in nature.”

Maybe I’ve achieved what I sought, but maybe it’s not too late for the quarterbacking dream.

Advice & Perspective

Last week the following email managed to leap over my spam filter and land among my various fan emails (my friends simply refer to them as ‘notes’, Philistines! But they know they’re fans deep down):

“Hi Beth,

I came across bigbluemess.com and thought there would be a good fit for a partnership with our network of local landing pages in various verticals. Our users are looking for informative articles, and advice, and your perspective stood out as a fit.

I’m looking to set up a call for my director to learn more about bigbluemess.com as  well as have her bring the right person up to speed on how we work with  our partners. Would you be the best person for this conversation? If so, would either this afternoon at 3:00 PM EST or tomorrow at 11 AM EST work better for an intro call?”

After tearing apart the sender’s email address, determining the email’s source by sifting through header information and finally cyberstalking the sender through LinkedIn (as well as a few other sites), it appeared that it was legitimate.  Being legitimate gave me permission to laugh.  Well, once I finished translating it and determined what was meant by the term “vertical”.  I’m a pro at “horizontal” eight to nine hours out of any given day; however, vertical has always been challenging especially on Mondays.  Apparently this “vertical” is a different beast. I’d share the definition, but I think it’s important we all embark on our own personal Odysseys (that and I think deep-down, you may not care).

I must say I was a bit offended.  The note implies that:

  1. I write articles.  No self-respecting journalist would ever look at my posts and award them the title of “article” unless they were stoned or half-heartedly making an attempt at stand-up. I’m almost positive all of my past English teachers/professors were overcome with a strong compulsion to roll their eyes in unison as soon as the guy typed the line.  We won’t even talk about the “informative” part.  (Well, unless we’re talking CCL surgery and physical therapy for beagles in Austin, TX.  I have steered a few readers in the right direction that one time.)
  2. I give advice. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  AH HAHAHAHAHAHA!  My advice in a nutshell: Don’t assume a slow southern/Texas drawl is indicative of a a slow mind.  Trust your gut. Don’t randomly kick things, especially around hospitals or fire ant mounds.  Let me just send up a huge apology to my grandmother, Grandbuddi; I hope I didn’t cause you much discomfort, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell what that was underneath your covers.  Please understand I was still a teenager, which means my brain was half formed and I was still somewhat of a sociopath, like most youth.  I’ve stopped kicking most things now.  You’d be quite proud.
  3. I offer a sought after perspective.  Wow.  I should display my reader count to shake them back into reality. How desperate must a company be for partners if they skim my site and think we’d make a good match?  Sure, I can offer a bit of perspective when it comes to improv or how my whining both plagues and confounds my sketch writing teacher, but real, thoughtful, and introspective insight where I bestow my pearls of perspective on a regular basis?  I don’t have it in me. My friends refer to me as the “token blonde”. That’s a strong indication that there’s probably not a lot of insight rattling around upstairs.  Insight scares me.  People might make pilgrimages to my house or find my face on their toast.  Then there’s the whole problem with what do you do to feed the masses.  Should we build a balcony on which I can stroll out at noon and wave? Will the Home Owners Association allow for a shrine in my yard when we can’t even display tasteful yard gnomes? And what if my new found minions ask me questions?  Let’s face it, at best I’d end up being the embodiment of Peter Seller’s character in “Being There” and no one wants to see that sequel. See, this is a slippery slope.

Needless to say, I didn’t respond or set-up a call.  I’m pretty sure my advice, perspective and “informative articles” were not quite what they would be looking for in a “partner” and their verticals would become diagonals – sloping in entirely the wrong direction.  Plus, to be quite honest those call times would be right in the middle of my work day, meaning the call would have to be made from my desk where all of my co-workers/cube-farm mates would learn how truly important I am.  Do they have a vertical? I bet they don’t even have a decent bar graph. I couldn’t do that to them.  It would be like finding out that Clark Kent was actually Superman.  I prefer my workplace anonymity where no one is sure if I can work the copier.  Finding out I write compound sentences would blow their minds.

Has anyone else received a solicitation like this and did you respond?