Sometimes when I have good advice for people, they sigh and say something like, “You are so wise!”
I’m quick to respond that I’m not. I just learn quickly. And sometimes, not so quickly, but I still learn eventually.
It’s not that I automatically know what to do in any given situation. It’s that I’ve been in that situation before. When it comes around again, I can smell it.
Sometimes it takes me a few months to smell it, and sometimes it just takes a few minutes. “Oh, yeah, I remember this!”
I think a person who is “truly wise” is someone who smells that bad situation out really, really fast. Like, they have it down to ten seconds or less.
The good thing is, you don’t have to make every single mistake out there to learn everything for yourself. You can learn from other people’s mistakes. That’s what fairy tales (“If your name is Snow White and your stepmother is a witch and looking to kill you, don’t accept apples from strange old women”), newspapers (“Dear Ann Landers, I never thought I’d be writing to you, but….”) and this blog (yes, you can find many, many of the mistakes I’ve made here!) are for.
The bad thing is, although you can learn from other people’s mistakes, you will still make plenty of your own. But that’s an important and necessary part of life.
You will eventually learn from them, and hopefully share them with others.
Then they’ll think you’re wise, too.