Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I'm a 20-year-old female from a rural area. I was always a "target" because I dressed differently and have been outspoken about my ideals and standing up for others. However, I was never very open about my sexual orientation. I felt like I always knew, but at the same time I didn't know how to figure it out. When I was 17 I went to a party; there was a girl there I liked, but she came with a guy. At some point, she came over and just started kissing me and it was like magic. Then the guy came over. It turns out she wasn't interested in me, but was doing something he had talked her into. That was my only experience with another woman -- but I know I'm bisexual. I came out at school to some friends, but no one took it seriously. I even came out to my family -- but my mom is the only one who took it seriously. I have been in a relationship now with a man for a year and a half. I love him, but I feel like a part of me is missing. Turning 20 is a wake-up for me. I'm figuring out what I want to do in my life (and friends are getting married). The guy I'm with takes my confession of being bi as, "You're just bi-curious." I'm thinking about asking if we could take a break so that I can try and find myself, but I'm terrified that if I do the door will close entirely. Should I "come out" again and hope I'll be taken seriously and that he'll support me? -- L
DEAR L: My instinct is that you are very eager to be "taken seriously," because you believe this outside validation from others will somehow answer your own very important questions about yourself.
But here's the thing -- no one will ever take you seriously until you no longer need to be taken seriously. When you stop "coming out" and start simply being out -- without definition and validation -- others will accept you and take you seriously.
And by then it won't matter so much.
Ask yourself how you would feel if your guy told you he wanted to take a break in order to be with men. Would you be open to taking a sexual sabbatical? Or would you see this break as a break-up? The only way to test the waters is to be honest about it.
You are still growing, maturing, and figuring out who you are. I hope you will always stand up for yourself the way you say you stand up for others.
DEAR AMY: I just started my first job. I am a cashier and everyone who comes in wants to use coupons. Sometimes I can't apply the coupons and they get angry at me. Then they act like I'm a moron and degrade me. I end up letting the coupon go through, though it could cost me my job for accepting a rejected coupon -- and they still aren't happy with me! I'm not sure how to handle these people. How can I be polite? And how can I tell them it's not my fault? -- Newbie DEAR NEWBIE: First pro tip: Never use the phrase "It's not my fault" to respond to a customer.
Find the most calm and seasoned cashier at your workplace. Ask your supervisor if you can spend an hour shadowing that person so you can see how she handles the toughest customers. Ask lots of specific questions and listen carefully to her advice.
Hang in there. You are doing an extremely challenging job. Once you master this, you will be ready to take on the world.
DEAR AMY: I disagree with your response to "Revolted," who complained about her husband urinating into the bathroom sink. Maybe she should be happy he got out of bed before relieving himself. -- Steve in California
DEAR STEVE: Lowering one's expectations past the basement level is certainly one way to cope.