10 Times Andrew W.K. Gave the Best Advice
Every week, New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party.
This year Andrew W.K. gave some phenomenal advice to folks in need of a little guidance — whether it was about shaking some bad karma and how to #PartyPositive or tackling bigotry and depression. Here are some of his most-read advice columns from 2015.
Dear Andrew W.K.,
I work at a used-car dealership where I'm forced to rip people off. It's killing my spirit a little bit every day. I wish I could be making the world a better place, but instead, I'm spending sixty hours a week selling snake oil and gypsy tears to poor unsuspecting people. How do I dig myself out of this situation and reverse all of the bad karma?
Killing My Karma
Andrew W.K.: I urge you to consider that you've actually been building up good karma for many years, and that this good karma is now revealing itself to you in an urgent form of undeniable instinct. It's an inner voice presenting you with a new type of clarity — an overwhelming sense of moral integrity, a pressure — which is making it virtually impossible for you to go on living against the principles which you know in your heart to be right. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Killing My Karma...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
To put it simply, I've lost my confidence. I used to be able to wake up in the morning knowing who I was, feeling sure of myself and ready to take on the world... I just want to be confident again and know who I am. I've lost my way and don't know how to get back my old self.
Lost Along the Way
Andrew W.K.: I'm someone who has never felt very confident in that typical outgoing way, but I also never really believed I had to feel confident in order to do something I wanted to do. I realized I could be confident without feeling confident. I had many of the same misconceptions that people who were confident inside always felt brave and strong. I think now it doesn't really matter if we feel confident or not. What matters is what we actually do, regardless of how scared we may feel. That's where this deeper type of confidence starts to develop — the confidence to live your life, even when you don't feel particularly self-assured or bold. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Lost Along the Way...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
I've never really shoplifted before, but yesterday I accidentally stole a T-shirt from a big retail chain... Now I have this T-shirt that I feel like I accidentally stole, but I also feel like it was kind of the store's fault for not noticing it. It's a huge chain store, so it's not like this one shirt is going to hurt them too much. Is it fine to just keep it? I feel weird about it.
Andrew W.K.: My personal advice for you is based on this same mindset: Go return the T-shirt. And be glad you didn't have to get mugged in order to realize that stealing from others is bad. It's just a T-shirt, and the big retailer might not ever notice or even care, but you do care. You cared enough to actually write me about it. That's because this isn't just about a T-shirt. This is about your own perception of yourself — your own principles, your own integrity, your own sense of order, and your own idealized view of the world. Once you start letting that slide too much, you slowly start to lose sense of yourself — your self-image slowly erodes — and you expect less of yourself and of others, and we all gradually fall further from our true potential as truly good beings. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Accidental Shoplifter...
Dear Andrew W.K,
I've been dealing with some major substance abuse problems for a long time, and without going into too much detail, I've finally given up and decided to enter a recovery program and go straight-edge. You are an expert on partying. Can I be straight-edge and still party hard?
Fear of Not Partying
Andrew W.K.: I think there's a common misconception that true partying must always involve drugs and alcohol. In reality, the only thing that true partying must involve is partying. How each of us decides to party within that partying is up to the individual, but true partying doesn't necessarily require drugs any more than it necessarily requires skydiving — to each their own. As long as it doesn't blatantly hinder someone else's ability to party, all forms of partying are permitted. Alcohol and drugs can be amazing, and when used in a dynamic way, they can offer us genuine life-changing insights and experiences. Drugs are not necessary requirements for all, and for some, they may be completely detrimental to reaching true party perfection. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Fear of Not Partying...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
I recently moved in with a friend who I've known for almost a decade. Turns out he uses a lot of homophobic slurs and insults. He also says racist stuff and badmouths pretty much every minority group you can think of. I had never seen this side of him until we became roommates, and now I'm really disturbed. I pointed out how offensive this was, and his response was, "They're just words," and that I should lighten up. What do I do?
Andrew W.K.: Your friend's answer of "They're just words" is similar to punching someone in the face and then saying, "They're just hands." Words are powerful and can be used to hurt or comfort, just like hands can be used to hit or hug. Next time he uses derogatory language, you could just call him an "ignorant racist dumbass piece of shit," and if he gets upset, remind him that "they're just words." Words are not "just words." Words are power. Words are living symbols of expression. Words can cause you to feel angry, even violently hurt. They're supposed to. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Concerned...
Yo, Andrew W.K.
How can anyone believe in religion? It's so ignorant and obviously fake. I've always backed science since I was a little kid, and now I'm proud to say that I'm studying to be a molecular biologist in college. The thing is, I'm surrounded by a lot of religious idiots at this school... What is the best way to finally get through to these ignorant people and explain to them simply and finally that they're wrong?
Thanks for your feedback,
Andrew W.K.: Both science and religion came from mankind's desire to know. Both are striving for truth. Science wants to understand truth. Religion wants to experience it. Science wants to get at truth from the outside in. Religion gets at it from the inside out. Science gives us the how; religion gives us the why. Science gives us the means to an end, religion gives us the meaning of that end. Science wants to bring comprehension to the universe. Religion wants to bring tangibility to the intangible. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Enlightened Scientist...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
Since I was very young, I've always wanted to be a successful musician. I have practiced and played in many bands and done everything I can to get my music out there, but the dream of making it big just seems to get further away and more impossible. I feel like I should just give up, but I love music so much and want to succeed at it. How can I get there? How can I be a really successful musician?
Striving For Success
Andrew W.K.: This is an excellent question and I'm going to answer it as simply and as directly as I can, with the hopes that it makes the point as clear and as helpful as possible. The traditional modern concept of success — being the measurement of monetary income as the primary indicator of effort and mastery in a certain field — is essentially a scam, a con, and a lie... To truly succeed at something is to devote yourself to what you love, and to allow that devotion to bring out the best and most admirable qualities inside of you, so that in the end, you ultimately succeed at the only effort that really matters: becoming a better person than you were. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Striving For Success...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
Last month I came out as transgender, beginning my transition to female. My mom has repeatedly tried to get me to move back home and see a therapist to "fix" me. My oldest sister called me a "sexual deviant" and forbid me to talk to my nieces and nephew, all of whom I was very close to. It's now been a month since this has happened. My question is, how can I reach out to my mom and my sister to help them understand better?
Rejected Trans Woman
Andrew W.K.: First and foremost, I commend you for moving forward with an incredibly intense yet deeply important choice: the choice to be yourself. Choosing to be true to one's self — despite physical, emotional, and social challenges that may come with the journey — is an integral part of realizing not just one's own potential, but of realizing the true nature of our collective human spirit. This spirit is what makes us who we are, and by following that spirit as it manifests outwardly, and inwardly, you are benefiting us all. This is what defines and furthers our shared journey of discovery and individuality. You are you, and as you progress on this adventure, you are striving to release more of that "you-ness" from deep within and out into the world. And this "you-ness" is truth, truth as expressed through your life as a unique person. It's your song, your melody. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Rejected Trans Woman...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
I'm a depressed person. I get sad and unmotivated and basically just feel like being away from everyone, including myself... Do you have any advice on what to do with bad feelings like this? You always seem so happy and I really look up to you for that. But do you ever get depressed? How do you stay so positive?
Downer in the Dumps
Andrew W.K.: The one thing I have learned throughout this odyssey is that those bad feelings are not who I really am. They are not the truth. And they will pass. And I will get back up. The real me is somewhere in there all the time, and the test is to see if I can hold on tight enough to make it through the storm. We must hold tight, and then try to rise back up. Maybe not instantly, but at some point, as soon as you can feel it start to lift a little. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to push through it. Pulling out of a depression by sheer willpower is among the hardest physical and emotional challenges I have ever engaged in. But I have done it, and you can, too. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Downer in the Dumps...
Dear Andrew W.K.,
I have a lovely girlfriend who makes significantly more money than I do, and I find this situation aggravating and stressful. She and I live together, and the kitchen is now "my domain." I know that love conquers all, but how do I be "the man" when I consistently find myself relying on her?
Andrew W.K.: A truly good man must think of other people as unique beings of inherent value and greatness, capable of just as much greatness as himself. Rather than resent another's greatness — especially the greatness of a loved one — a true man strives to encourage it. In recognizing someone else's capacity for greatness, he may also see her become even greater than himself. Perhaps in ways that he didn't expect. Perhaps in ways that defy social standards. Perhaps in ways that force him to look closely at his life and feel self-conscious and insecure. But rather than fear these feelings, the great man embraces them, for he realizes they're opportunities to improve the quality of his soul, to loosen the strangling grip of his ego, and to free himself and others from unnecessarily stifling conventions. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to T...
Honorable Mention: Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole*
*This is from 2014, but it's one of Andrew W.K.'s most-read columns and still resonates with thousands of readers.
Hi Andrew W.K.,
I'm writing because I just can't deal with my father anymore. He's a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics... Don't get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?
Thanks for your help,
Son of a Right-Winger
Andrew W.K.: The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen. Read the rest of Andrew W.K.'s advice to Son of a Right-Winger...
Need Andrew W.K.'s help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com
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