Q: I’m a young woman of 16 years and I’m in the second year of high school. Next year will be my last, and then I will have the pressure of relatives and friends wondering what I will do with my life.
When I was little, I said I was going to be a stylist. I liked that idea, but after I did some research about it, I realized it is not for me. I have also thought about journalism and specializing in fashion but don’t know if it’s something I want for my life.
I would love to do medicine, perhaps pediatrics or oncology. They are very beautiful professions. Should I pursue the career I always wanted as a child or a career that I think is beautiful and will give me a good life? Help! — Julia From Brazil
A: The dreams people have as children usually change as they mature. It appears that yours are no different. The careers you are contemplating now can make a huge difference in the lives of others, and reward you well if you work hard and are successful. If you would love the practice of medicine and have the aptitude for it, that’s the way I think you should go.
Q: I am terrified of driving on the interstate. It is keeping me from going places I want to go and doing things I want to do. I don’t know anyone else with this phobia. Is there any help for someone like me? — Ready to Roll in Montana
A: Of course there is. Your first step should be to contact a driving school to find out if it offers courses for people with a fear of driving on the interstate. However, if you can’t bring yourself to dip your toe in the water that way, ask your physician to put you in touch with a psychotherapist who specializes in relieving people of their phobias.
Q: I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I work in a school, so I have the summers off, but I can’t relax and enjoy myself. Every day I constantly think about having to go back to work when summer is over, and I dread it. I also find myself dwelling on past mistakes I have made and regrets about things I did or didn’t do. As a result, it prevents me from enjoying the present.
Do other people have this problem? Have you any advice to help me stop thinking about the past and the future and how I can enjoy the here and now? — Can’t Relax in New Jersey
A: Nothing lasts forever, including summer vacation. However, may I point out that if you have a job you “dread” returning to, it may be time to consider finding a new one?
As to past regrets spoiling your present, a way to stop dwelling on those negative thoughts would be to say ALOUD to yourself: “That was then. This is NOW. I’m wiser now.” Then make a conscious effort to reorient yourself to the present. I’m not saying it won’t take vigilance and practice, but hearing yourself speak the words may snap you back to where you belong.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.