Advice invitation

I’m broke, divorced, and unemployed. By any reasonable measure, I’m probably the worst person in the world to ask for advice.

Yet my friends keep asking me to help them figure out whatever difficult life situation they’re facing right now. Which makes me think that they do for some reason find my advice valuable. Which in turn makes me think I should offer even more advice.

I’ve been pondering how whenever I didn’t have the ability to “confess” to anyone in the past, I would start making terrible decisions and slowly start losing my mind.

(my hypothesis for the world going crazy is in a large part because when people stopped taking church seriously they also lost the only place where they could confess and be accepted fully and unconditionally, therefore losing a fundamental sense of security in the world; & without a fundamental sense of security in the world life is impossible.)

I’m also thinking about 3rd spaces here: libraries, cafes, McDonald’s, WeWorks, parks, churches again. When I don’t have a 3rd space to hang out at, I basically can’t function.

Talking to random people is kind of like a social analog of a 3rd space — yes they don’t really know you, but you’ll also never talk to them again, so you are free to tell them anything, while they can actually be honest with you.

I’ve only ever had one real job. When I had nobody but my boss and immediate colleagues to talk to, it was almost impossible. What saved me was finding someone in the company who was far enough from me organizationally that they clearly had no stake in any of the problems I was having and who I therefore could talk to about my issues freely.

(I was fired eventually but for unrelated reasons — in retrospect, it was a bad idea to keep deferring to God as the final authority on what’s the right thing to do when my manager kept trying to assign me specific projects and deadlines).

Anyway, I keep thinking about this and I feel like most people I know don’t have this “3rd person” to talk to about whatever is bothering them and that when I’m able to be in this role for my friends and acquaintances, they often find it really helpful (a friend reading a draft of this essay told me my advice changed their life).

Going back to the beginning of the essay – I’ve failed at every career aspiration I’ve ever had and at every romantic relationship I’ve ever had; recently I’ve taken up smoking and drinking hard liquor in the afternoons; as I’m writing this, I don’t know where I’m sleeping tonight.

I definitely gave terrible advice to a bunch of people over the years (advice I was giving to one friend was so bad he grabbed a knife and almost stabbed me; I sent him the draft of this essay and he replied with “I actually want to ask for advice lol” 🥴).

It is in a way pretentious to even be writing this piece and yet… I’ve not been able to stop thinking about posting it for months now.

So – all things considered, please take this as an open invitation to ask me for advice (about anything) by emailing

Stay frosty, Alexey

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