Original "Tell Me About It" columns will appear in Sunday Source while Carolyn is on maternity leave. The following are excerpts from spring 2003 live discussions on washingtonpost.com.

Hey, Carolyn:

I've been seeing this girl for about a month. We really like each other and we're having a blast. Just recently she got a great job offer in Europe and is taking it. It starts in three months, and she will be there for two years. Do we cut ties now and avoid inevitable heartbreak later? I mean, we aren't serious, but I could see myself getting more attached to her if we spent the next three months together. The other part of me says enjoy the time you have with her. Thoughts?

D.C.

Enjoy the time you have with her. Life is funny; feelings are funnier. I don't have any idea how I'm going to feel in three months. If you do know, I want what you're having.

Actually, I don't. Much more fun not knowing.

Hi, Carolyn!

I'm an avid reader, but I've always been afraid to submit a question -- until now -- and only because I'm at such a total loss. Over the past six months, I've been feeling completely and utterly disgusted about my life. Essentially, I have always been very driven and ambitious, usually just to appear "together" and perfect. I'm almost 24. I've held a lot of glamour jobs, but I've yet to find something I'm truly passionate about.

I keep berating myself for not having achieved enough. For instance, I promised myself I'd write my first novel by 21. Haven't done it. I have a job at a well-respected media outlet, which people always think is awesome, but I feel stuck in a rut and I'm not making the most of the experience. I've lost all motivation. My friends are off applying to grad schools and getting promotions, and I feel stagnant.

Moreover, lately I have been taking this out on my boyfriend: I've been trying to run his life (researching grad schools for him, etc.) instead of focusing on mine, which I feel is a total mess. I was always proud of myself up until recently, and I have no clue how to emerge from this.

Somewhere

Afraid I'll bite you? Just don't be completely self-absorbed, and I won't.

Actually, you're cutting the self-absorbed thing a little close with your quest for the -est (smartest, brightest, richest, successfulest), but we'll call it appearance absorption and give it a pass, since you're hurting only yourself.

In fact, I think your disgust should be redirected toward that -- your need to flog yourself for absolutely no reason. Repeat, absolutely no reason. You are not even 24. Some people don't find their passions till they're 60.

Some people never find them, and eke out pretty decent lives for themselves. They work hard, at whatever, as long as it's toward the greater good, and they pay their taxes, and they're nice to the people who love them, and they take pleasure in whatever small things they take pleasure in.

So my advice is to relax, work hard at your job, and love the people who love you, and seek out some pleasure in life.

And if you can't put yourself into that mold because you think you're too good for it, then I will bite you.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.