what is the worst life advice ever given

The World’s Worst Life Advice

Opinions are like assholes, right? Everyone has one. Well, here is a long rant about other people’s opinions in my life and why I think they are the world’s worst life advice I’ve ever received and how this has held me back in having the life of my dreams.

what is the worst life advice ever given

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1. Calories IN vs. Calories OUT:

This is crap life advice. Unless you are someone who is always on the smaller side, where you can actually tell that you ate a cheeseburger because your belly gets a ‘food baby’.

If so, fuck you.

You are perfect in the eyes of society and your perceived flaws are bullshit. You can eat one less bowl of ice cream at night and can shed 10 pounds.

For the rest of us outliers, calories in vs. calories out is a load of crap and have done me more of a disservice to my emotional state and wrecked my metabolism.

what should I wear to a wedding if I'm the wedding photographer?

What I’ve learned in my 42 years of trying to even fucking maintain my weight is that I don’t eat enough and when I workout, I’m putting my body into starvation mode.

What I’ve also learned is that my siblings eat worse, don’t work out and drink like fish and they stay small. They look just like my Dad’s side of the family.

I and my brothers (who look like my Mom’s side) need to workout 6 hours a day, every damn day in order to stay 10-20 pounds ‘overweight’. It sucks.

It sucks a lot.

I haven’t eaten cake or anything fun in public in about 15 years. I don’t eat dessert at all… that’s how unhealthy my relationship with food has become. I eat kale, quinoa and almond butter, but I look like I start my day with donuts.

photography mentor and business coach Heather McKay

So fuck all of you who look at me and see an obese person and judge me.

I can probably out hike you, out bike you and tell you all kinds of shit about the food you eat that you don’t even know. Like how ketchup has more sugar than a Krispy Kreme Donut.

These ‘Irish Wings’ won’t tone up, no matter how much running or chair dips I do.

2. You need a college degree

If they were free, sure get one.

But they are not.

Not by a long shot.

just paid off my student loans this year and have never gotten a job because I had that degree (and my parents chipped in almost half).

I’m certainly not saying that college is worthless and that the experience of going to college and achieving a degree isn’t a great life skill and personally rewarding. What I am saying is that the way we are sold on college is junk logic.

You do not need a degree for a plethora of fields, and there are a lot of respectable careers that are absolutely easy to obtain without the debt of college.

–>> More importantly, the lack of a major student loan payment gives you an automatic raise.

I have a friend from childhood who dropped out of high school her senior year. She has been a manager of a Pizza Hut since around that time, bringing in $50-80,000 a year!

If you consider two things about this:

  1. she has been making that since her early 20’s and
  2. she has no student loan debt, you can do the math that anything she wants in life is easy to obtain… with cash.

For me personally, I would have been much better off had I spent that $30,000 living in NYC for two years and interning for an established photographer for free.

It would have been an invaluable experience and a variety of knowledge, not to mention meeting all of the contacts that I would have needed to become a freelance photographer.

All, I learned in college was how to put something on a pedestal and then talk about it to death. That’s it.

–>> My main complaint with university education is that not all degrees are the same and yet we pay the same.

I was very bitter that I paid the same as my engineering friends and yet they have all made six figures since graduating.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can yell at me all you want about how engineering is just a better job than photography.


Save that for another day because I know a ton of shitty doctors. I know computer engineers that are assholes and work for telemarketing companies.

Everyone’s job has value and deserves to make an honest paycheck. Photography sells products, services, and is invaluable in our lives.

Parallax Life blog and photography business mentor for pricing

3. Follow your passion

Here is the follow up to my previous rant.

I love photography because it is easy for me.

My brain just sees things visually and the camera happens to capture my unique vision.

Now that I’m an adult, I realize I’m also really good at math and business, in seeing trends coming and going, teaching. I’m good at a lot of things.

Unfortunately, I now realize I’m good at a lot of things that could have made me a lot more money in my life.

Now, it is true that if you had told me when I was 16 to go get a business or accounting degree I would not have listened to you.

That’s true.

Imagine if I hadn’t been fed lies of ‘‘follow your dream and it will pay off’.

My dad tried when he said “what can you ever do with photography?” however, that wasn’t the right thing for me to hear, it was rude and counterproductive. Especially since one of his sisters was one of NYC’s top 5 Photographer’s Representatives.

So, my answer (silently) was “oh, I don’t know, why don’t we ask your sister!”. I digress. My point is that I know a shit ton of artists who are amazing at art and suck at selling their art. These skills need to be taught and cultivated.

Now that I know who I am and what I am good at, I realize that I probably would have been amazing at selling OTHER people’s art & photography.

That should be a field that is cultivated and recommended for other visual people who like to teach and organize and aren’t artist flakes. Because we are out there and so many talented artists need us.

Maybe I should have become a venture capitalist since I’m awesome at seeing other people’s strengths and weaknesses?

photo book types for photographers

4. Become a better version of yourself

Sometimes, I think this is the number one worst piece of life advice I ever learned.

My entire life, I’ve fought what makes me unique, held my tongue, censored myself, second-guessed my ideas about trends, acquiesced to what everyone else in the room wanted.

What I now know is that I could have jumped in with my ideas and started the next trend. Other people would have found me and wanted whatever I was selling. Many times, I think I would have been happier.

When I began my wedding photography business, wedding photography was still very formal, still being photographed on film and there was still a bit of an art and skill to it.

Now, everyone thinks they are a photographer because they take whimsical Instagram photos and they got a camera for Christmas.

When I started my business, I really didn’t want to be a wedding photographer.

I really don’t care about ‘weddings’ all that much. The shoes, the dress, the flowers, all that… I really don’t care and I think most of it is really wasteful spending.

So, it took me ages to realize that there were fun and laid back people who agreed with me. Those are my peeps.

I have built my career with people who are in it for the marriage and not just the wedding.

If only I had embraced it earlier.

Maybe I could have been the one to start the blog Offbeat Bride or Fearless Photographers or The Middle Finger Project. 

Additionally, I’m a natural leader and every situation I’m in is better for everyone when I don’t hide that skill.

I recently had a major failure in my life and what I’ve learned from that experience is that I should not have joined that venture because I was not in charge. I was always biting my tongue/taking the high road which actually made things much worse.

I really believe that if I had a few meltdowns, my partners would have respected me.

That is totally counter to common sense!

I’m an adult and expect everyone else to communicate as such. Apparently, it isn’t always the best option. WTF??

what is the worst life advice ever given

5. You'll find a soul mate

No, you most likely won’t.

Besides, everyone has about 4 soul mates in life, right?

This is one reason marriage is so hard. Your ideas and needs change. Their ideas and needs change. You both have to be awesome at communication and have very little emotional baggage in order to keep it together. Or just power through, as past generations did.

For me, I’ve only ever met one person that might have been my soul mate and yet the timing was completely off.

We didn’t stand a chance.

I was a complete emotional wreck and insecure and he was already in a relationship.

So, what the fuck does that mean for me then??

  • Was he not my soul mate?
  • Did I fuck that up?
  • Did I meet my real soul mate and not know?
  • Am I too fat to be loved?
  • Too bossy?
  • Too controlling?
  • Is there something wrong with me?
  • Is it my fault?

Do you see what I did there!?! This is the problem with the whole ‘soul mate’ thing.

There are entirely too many variables and timing also has to be perfect. Not to mention that your soul mate has to perfectly fulfill ALL of your needs.

When I ask generations past about their long ass marriages, the guiding force was always sex. For real. This is what has kept them together.

I met an 80 year old named Henry on a train once and he said he got married so that he could have sex. They were married until her death.

life advice from an 80 year old

I wonder what would have happened if I was never taught about the soul mate thing.

There are a ton of people out there that did get the memo that it’s a numbers game and each dating experience is just an experience that you can build upon.

For me, I evaluated every high school crush as if it was to be marriage material. Would it work out long term? Ugh. That’s literally the worst thing I could have done.

I kept myself out of a ton of relationships (or even just dates) due to this very high bar.

You know what?

The best relationship I’ve ever had was with a married man. The timing and emotional element were all perfect.

I now have a much healthier idea of what everything means and that was a good relationship for that moment in time.

He is a better husband and I’m much better at relationships as a result.

It is the only time I’ve ever really felt loved and yet, I had no interest in being with him forever.

6. People Who Work Hard Win

I know plenty of really dumb people who make a lot more money than I do.

At my previous job, I was tasked to go work in stores that were underperforming and turn them around.

At one such store, within the first month, I reconciled 5 years of waste, loss, poor inventory control and raised sales by 15%! In one month.

Guess what thanks I got???

The previous Store Manager (you know, the unorganized one) got the big Loss Prevention bonus of $2000!

–>> That bonus only happened because of ME. and I got zilch.

A few years ago, my New Year’s Resolution was to finally ‘live up to my potential’.

My goal was to say yes to anything and everything that came my way. I would get up early, stay up late working, network my face off, and generally not be ‘lazy’.

Two things happened that year:

  1. I was kinda a bitch and
  2. I made the exact same amount of money as the year before and after (and I tell ya, I was LAZY the following year).

Generally, I feel like I’m ‘smarter’ than most.

I see trends coming and know when they are leaving. Technology is easy for me and I’m the one that people go to when they need ideas or focus. My brainstorming skills are in demand and I’m always thinking 10 steps ahead.

But you know what has happened? All of those people I’ve consulted are thriving and I’m left wondering where my next paycheck will come from.

Life is hard.

A lot of it is chance. A lot of us strong people don’t get the help we need, meanwhile we are always lifting up other people. Where is my tipping point? When will my bank account reflect how hard I’m working?

Maybe if I wasn’t given the world’s worst life advice, I would have just chosen a career for the money. Or chosen one like you really should: picking a job based off of the next job I want.

what should I wear to a wedding if I'm the wedding photographer?

So, what is the worst life advice you have received?


In the end, I am still learning and relearning. As I look backward, I can hopefully improve going forward.

However, it takes a lot of energy to rewire my brain and embrace who I am after spending a lifetime trying not to be who I am.

It’s one of the reasons that I finally started this blog. A blog for me. Unafraid that my family will read it. It’s my attempt at finally living an authentic life and living more fully.

After all, it is my life and I have a lot of living to do.

What terrible life advice have you un-learned? Is there a great piece of advice that you clutch to each day?

Share with us all here….

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