DEAR ABBY: I'm 14 and I'm terrified that I won't know what to do once I'm in college and have to decide on a long-term job. I have a lot of interests, but none that would lead me toward a career. My teachers and the books I read say I should find my passion and follow it for the rest of my life. My problem is, I don't have a stand-out passion I love intensely.
I have an amazing family who would support me in any direction I choose, but I don't know what that would be. I get good grades and work hard, and I believe I could achieve anything I choose. The problem is, I don't know what I want to do.
I know I'm young, but I worry all the time about my future and being stuck in a job I hate. I'm involved in lots of activities -- student government, piano lessons, sports, service clubs and more -- and I enjoy all of them. But none of them inspire a burning passion. Do you have any suggestions on how to find my passion? -- NEEDS A DIRECTION, ATLANTA
DEAR NEEDS A DIRECTION: Yes. And the first one is to relax and quit worrying about not having found your "passion" at 14. This isn't the Middle Ages, when young people would apprentice themselves to a guild in which they would spend the rest of their lives. You are intelligent and only beginning to explore your various talents.
You may excel in several different areas, which is good, because workers no longer necessarily stay in one kind of job for a lifetime. People are usually good at the things they enjoy, so slow down. Give yourself time to see where you excel. I am positive that if you do, you'll find your passion(s) in a field you enjoy.
DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for more than 10 years. It has been rocky over the past few years, and I recently had an affair with a married man. I have fallen madly in love with him, and every night I dream about being with him instead of with my husband. We're both in unhappy marriages and both have children.
He's worried that if he gets divorced he won't be able to see his kids as often as he wants. Should I forget him and try to fall back in love with my husband?
Everyone I talk to about this says my lover has been what I needed to recognize that I wasn't happy in my marriage and that I deserve better. I know I deserve better because I worshipped the ground my husband walked on for many years and got treated like crud. What do I do? -- DOWNTRODDEN WIFE IN OKLAHOMA.
DEAR DOWNTRODDEN: Since you're collecting advice, I don't mind throwing in my two-cents' worth.
Your lover doesn't appear eager to leave his family, so do the best thing for both of you and end the affair. As to whether you should try to fall back in love with a man who "treated you like crud," sometimes divorce can be therapeutic. And from the description you gave me of your marriage, you could benefit from seeking one and swearing off men for a while.
DEAR ABBY: Four years ago my best friend's mother lost her husband after a battle with cancer. She joined a grief support group and met a man who had lost his wife to cancer, too. Love blossomed and they will be married soon. Everyone is thrilled they have found each other.
Along with a wedding gift, would it be appropriate to make a donation to a cancer charity in memory of their deceased spouses? I would like to honor the struggle that led the couple to each other, but don't want to offend. What do you think? -- DEVOTED FRIEND IN KENTUCKY
DEAR DEVOTED FRIEND: I think you have come up with a beautiful idea that will be deeply appreciated, and you should do it.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)