Don’t tell me to be careful.
Don’t tell me to watch out, go slow, or hold up a minute.
If you want me to avoid a certain risk, give me actionable advice. “Keeping up with your lifting will help protect your knees when you run,” is useful, empowering information. “I hope you don’t hurt your knees,” is not.
When you tell me to “listen to my body,” but you don’t tell me what to listen for, you aren’t being helpful.
When you tell me not to overdo it, but don’t explain what “it” is or how to monitor when I’ve gone too far, you are being paternalistic. Decide now–what is your goal? Are you actually trying to help me grow, which means transferring the power of choice to me, giving me enough information to be able to judge the right decisions for myself? Or, do you really just want to be in control, to tell me what to do and expect me to do it without question? If you actually want to be helpful, I need you to stop telling me to “be careful.”
And when I inevitably experience consequences to my choices, resist the urge to justify your fears, at least long enough to find out what I’ve learned and if I think the consequences are worth it. Show me an athlete who has never had to work through an injury. Show me an exceptional person who didn’t have to do more than others thought was prudent or possible.
I’m tired of having my judgement questioned. I’m annoyed at having to constantly justify and explain what I know and how I know it. I’m frustrated with managing the endlessly unhelpful anxieties of other people.
Either be a partner with me on this path I’ve chosen, or step aside and stay out of my way.
Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found picking up heavy things and putting them back down again in Portland, OR.