Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I am a recent college graduate. I have landed an incredible job in the industry that I would like to be in. I'm lucky, but there is one thing: I am not satisfied or (dare I say) even happy. There are so many things that I want to do that aren't this job. I feel like right now my life is controlled by my job and I am holding off on doing so many things that I want to do because of work. I want to travel the world, run an ultra-marathon, "work" writing a travel blog or a fitness blog and hike every single day. I want to "work" every day doing something I love. I don't want a traditional job, but I feel stuck where society says I need to be, and I can't get out of this cycle. I would love to know what you think.
Unhappy and Successful
DEAR UNHAPPY: You don't say how you arrived at this special knowledge of what "society" wants from you. So let me speak for all of society and tell you this: No one is tying you to the fast track. No one wants you to linger, depressed, at a professional job, which someone else might genuinely treasure.
Your life belongs to you. And it unspools one day and one decision at a time. We have entered a truly golden age of writing your own life script.
You could use this period to research careers that are much closer to your dream skill set. Also, except for traveling the world, all of your goals are achievable while you are working. I suggest you get started as soon as possible. That ultra-marathon is not going to run itself! For inspiration, read writer Po Bronson's wonderful guide: "What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question" (2005, Ballantine Books).
DEAR AMY: I am a recent widower. I lost my spouse after a long battle with disease. Through it all, I was preparing myself for the end. The end was something I could not prevent. It came and I accepted it. I've always had a practical outlook on things I cannot control. I feel ready to move on and find new attachments. I suppose the lack of intimacy during a long illness is driving my desire to meet new people. And, being in my 60s, I'm sure a fear of being alone is part of it. But how does one explain this willingness to move on to a potential new companion without seeming cold and selfish? I am not mentioning how much time has passed since my wife's death, because it is the concept of moving on that concerns me, not the number of months since she passed, though I know some may feel I am rushing this.
Out There Too Soon
DEAR OUT THERE: You should be honest with new people you meet, regardless of how you think they may react to you. Keep in mind that any potential romantic partners may decide that (in their view) you are not quite ready for a new relationship -- not because they are insisting that you must grieve for a prescribed period of time, but because you are ripe for a rebound.
Some people don't mind being in a rebound relationship, but for others, being the first relationship after a loss -- whether through divorce or death -- is emotionally risky.
I hope you will pursue whatever relationships you wish to have, as well as giving yourself lots of time and space to sort through all that you are thinking and feeling. A men's' book club, athletic or gaming group might be a good fit for you; other guys will help to guide and support your efforts (if you want it), and they might understand your perspective.
DEAR AMY: Here's a reason "Distraught Mom's" teen daughter might have asked her permission to go to keg parties: This teen might be looking for an "out." Saying "I'd like to go but my mean mom won't let me" gives this teenager cover.
DEAR MOM: Definitely. But first, a parent has to be brave enough to say "no."