14 Nov Dear Carol
My first boyfriend broke up with me three months ago. I promised myself that I would not think about him and that I would get over it as soon as possible. That went well for a couple weeks. Recently I’ve been thinking about him a lot more, and I might still like him. I can’t stop thinking about him. It’s hard to think about someone who made you so happy but who you don’t have anymore. I’m sure it’s normal to feel this way, but does it have to be so hard?
It is normal and it is hard and it hurts, but I swear you will find someone else who will make you happy. Most first romances don’t go the distance—nor should they. You are still discovering who you are, and you’ll become better and better at finding a guy who is right for you and who gets you and appreciates you. Keep becoming your best self and keep your standards high. If I told you to smile at two new guys this week, which ones would they be? Smile at them. This summer, can you find volunteer work, get a job, go to camp or visit a relative, even if only for a week? Reading books is also a great way to enter other worlds and gain new perspectives.
My friend and I sometimes wonder what it’s like to try drugs, but we know better than to do them. But we’re scared that when we’re older, we’ll be so curious that we will try them and fry our brains and even get addicted.
I’m glad you are both already aware that drugs are a nightmare for many people. Curiosity is healthy, but so is being sensible and restrained. The easiest way not to become a smoker is not to light up in the first place. Same with drugs. Drugs have sidetracked and ruined too many lives, and the best way to avoid that heartbreak is to avoid drugs from the get-go. There are plenty of safer, saner ways to have fun. So two gold stars for you two for recognizing that it’s up to you to take care of yourselves.
NAKED PICTURE MISTAKE
I’ve done something really bad. I’m 15, and I sent a naked picture to a guy who promised he wouldn’t show anyone. His friends got on his phone and, long story short, it got posted on Instagram for my entire school to see. I’ve already told my mom, but it’s been three months and I still feel awful. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for doing something so humiliating and immature. I wish I could take the whole thing back, but I can’t, and every time I look at my mother, I feel like dying.
Dear Naked Picture Mistake, Agreed, that was not your finest hour, but it’s in the past. You learned from it, and you can’t take it back, so no point beating yourself up forever. This happened months ago. Now, hold your head high and be the smartest, nicest person you can be, and don’t punish yourself any more, OK? If necessary, say to your mom or a therapist, “I’m having a hard time forgiving myself,” and see if they can help. I’m sorry you learned about sexting the hard way, but perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that next time you are feeling impulsive, you’ll know to put on the brakes. Meantime, you know what? Every person on the planet is naked under his or her clothes. Summer is coming, and soon this will all just be water under the bridge.
I have a crush on a kid. I have asked him out before, and he said no, that we are good friends and he’s not ready. Still, I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’ve tried flirting, but I’m really bad at that. I even asked him to the movies as a friend, but we keep postponing it.
Who else do you like besides this boy? Sometimes saying “I’m not ready” is a really kind way of saying “I don’t want to go out”—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead of knocking and knocking on a door that is closed, why not step away and notice other doors and the other wonderful people behind them? Moving on is often wise and is not synonymous with giving up.
For about six months now, I’ve been noticing these little brown patches on my right breast. They aren’t accompanied by any other symptoms like itching. I don’t know what could have caused them, and I’m too embarrassed to ask my mom or the doctor. I figure since you’re always helping out girls with puberty problems, maybe you could help me out, too.
Dear Breast Question,
Never be embarrassed to ask your doctor anything. Doctors look at bodies the way mechanics look at cars or carpenters look at houses. I’m not a doc, so it would be irresponsible of me to say, “No worries,” though I’m tempted to make that diagnosis. Can you go ahead and ask your mom or school nurse so you can put your worries to rest?
I’ve been wanting to be a writer but I am scared that if I write down my ideas, I’ll be criticized. My other fear is that I won’t write what I really want to say. How do I get over my fears?
Dear Writer’s Block?
I’ve filled up lots of diaries. No one criticizes them because that writing is for my eyes only. It’s also a great way to practice setting down your thoughts. So my recommendation is to keep a journal…and write, write, write. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or bad, just write. As for becoming a professional writer, I cannot tell a lie: It is a difficult profession. It takes a lot of persistence and talent and luck, and very few writers are famous or rich. But what’s also true is that if you learn to express yourself clearly with style and verve, this will be fun and valuable
to you, whether you’re writing a thank-you note, love letter or job application.
MY BFF IS A BULLY
Last year in seventh grade, my best friend got bullied a lot. Now she bullies other people, including me. She’ll say that I’m way too short and that I’m never going to make it in high school. It makes me sad. I have tried talking to her, but she says that it’s part of being friends and that you have to bully each other to be friends. So now I’m not sure if I should be her friend or end it. I’m worried if I say we’re not close friends, she will start bullying me even more.
Dear My BFF is a Bully,
She’s wrong about bullying. It’s good to be honest with friends—yet mean and foolish to snipe at them. If I were you, I’d try to stay on your BFF’s good side (who needs her as an enemy?), but also try to set up plans with other girls. After all, friends should build each other up, not tear each other down.
I’ve already had three boyfriends in the past, but for some reason, with this one guy who likes me now, well, I’m not sure how I feel toward him. I think that I like him, but sometimes I feel like I don’t really want any relationships right now.
Dear Dating Decision,
Give yourself permission not to have a boyfriend. Being unattached is just fine. And if you’re not even sure if you like a guy back, all the more reason not to rush into anything. In short, listen to your feelings, not his. And recognize that it’s smart to slow down and take care of your heart rather than to keep handing it over to the nearest taker.
My parents are getting a divorce. I’ve been pretty good with the whole thing, but I still have a problem with my mom. You see, whenever I’m with my dad, I’m kind and sweet and never complain. But when I’m with my mom, I always seem to give her a hard time and not treat her very well, and then she thinks I’m mad at her or punishing her. But that’s not true. I love my mom so much, and I want us to be friends. Do other girls have this problem, too?
I’m sorry your family is going through a hard time. If your family has baby, they have to deal with many thing like choosing the top rated double stroller for them. What would happen if you showed your mom this letter? Or apologized in person or in a note? You can say that this transition has not been easy, and occasionally you just need to vent. I hope she knows that your “attitude” is indeed normal and means you feel safe with her. That said, she could probably use a hug from time to time. And if you give her one, you’ll both feel better. Can you suggest going out for a walk or meal or movie or shopping?