Q. I need to press a reset button on a bad decision I made. Last year I quit my job and moved back to my parents’ house to go back to school in a different field. I am one semester in and very much regretting it. It is not for me. I know I can’t get my old job back, but I don’t know how to start to undo this. I feel that I’ll disappoint and worry my parents, and I’m honestly disappointed in myself, and feel so stuck.
A reframe is important here: You aren’t really stuck, though you can’t see that now. You’re just at a crossroads. You decide when to become unstuck, by turning your desire for change into concrete action, and getting started. Reset buttons don’t exist in real life; there’s no instantaneous fix that will restore all your settings to factory defaults. But that’s a good thing, because you don’t want to erase what you’ve learned in this detour. It’s important information that can lend clarity and fuel to the next steps you take. So, start defining your reset as a series of small, concrete steps — some awkward, some annoying, some just hard. But get going, remembering that in just a few years, one semester’s worth of waylay is going to seem a laughably short blip on the screen.
He doesn’t like me when I’m me
Q. My boyfriend always tells me I need to relax, and that I am too uptight about stuff. I don’t really see myself this way, and it makes me feel like he can’t accept me for who I am. I do like things a certain way, and like to make plans, and have high expectations of people. How is it that this means that I should relax? Part of me feels like he needs to relax his expectations of ME and just let me be. How is there a certain “right” way to be? Is this a sign we are fundamentally incompatible?
That’s the thing: There is no “right” way to be. It’s the messy beauty of relationships — they are made up of two people who come together and see if the match is right, given all their individual idiosyncrasies. Assuming you love this guy and he treats you well in general, it may make sense for you to do some exploring with him about just how and why he feels this way, and how it seems to affect him, and whether there are specific behaviors that can be addressed, together. After all, relationships may take some bending: Maybe there are small things you say or do in specific situations that make things tough for him. But if he’s coming from a broader-based condemnation of your whole being, I’m not on board. Relaxation should most benefit the person themselves, not somebody else.
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Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.