The other day I saw an author on TV promoting a book he wrote about how we've all been lied to about the health benefits of drinking milk.
I guess I'm supposed to bow down to this man -- he's clearly more educated than me -- and heed his advice. But I didn't listen to him, because I hate being bossed around and can't drink milk anyway. But I suppose I should replace my opinions about milk with his -- after all he's the expert.
The world is overflowing with experts: The smarty-pantses, the know-it-alls, the people whose Doctorate degrees have given them a pass to inform and guide us lesser mortals about how to live life. I have relatives like that, people who start sentences with "you know what you should do" I've removed such people from my life.
You know what an expert is? It's a parent, but for adults. I thought making it through childhood earned me the right to make my own decisions. I don't want to turn back the clock now that I've made it to the ripe age of 31. I remember those "good old days" well: I got $10 allowance each month, had to do Math homework and dust the living room when I'd rather watch TV. I prefer doing my own thing.
I was parented well all those years ago, and now, I'm ready to get on with making horrible decisions that will ruin my life. And I would like to do so in peace, without the input of the more educated.
The "expert" opinions that irritate me the most are the ones telling me what to eat. I need more fiber, raw vegetables, less carbs, lots of nuts apparently, and no sugar.
Thanks to such advice -- given after the expert subtly lets me know how many degrees he has
-- I feel guilty when I fail to meet expectations. Perhaps, the smarty-pants should visit my house and tell me to go sit in the corner and think about what I did when I ate that Snickers bar without his permission.
I've always had trouble with authority, questioning why my teacher, or the police officer, or the doctor has a right to boss me around. I always feel lesser than -- less intelligent, less cultured, less educated -- after I receive unwanted expert guidance.
Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who, if you tell me what to do, I'm going to do the opposite. I'm going to do serious harm to myself and my well-being before I admit, years later, that you were right and I should've done what you told me to. But that's my prerogative.
I have confidence in the power of my own brain to get me through life relatively unscathed. After all, on a daily basis I manage to make numerous decisions -- brushing my teeth, putting on my pants before going outside, eating three meals (of questionable nutrition) a day, drinking Lactose-free milk so I get my calcium and only eating one candy bar instead of two (or three). In my opinion, the list of legitimate, repeatable expert guidance is limited to three things: Don't smoke, everything in moderation, and don't sit on your butt all the time. Everything else is just noise.
JH Mae is a Banner columnist.