DEAR ABBY: I'm a freshman in high school and my sister is a junior. She plays violin in our school orchestra (first chair), gets straight A's in all her classes (honors and AP courses) and is gorgeous and popular. I, on the other hand, am socially awkward, spend most of my time with my nose jammed in a book, barely get A's in my few honors courses and play in the school band.
I have a few close friends, but most of them aren't in any of my classes so I eat lunch alone. I don't want to be popular; I just want to stop being jealous of my sister. How can I do that when anything I do that's good is overshadowed by all her accomplishments? -- LIVING IN THE SHADOWS IN ILLINOIS
DEAR LIVING IN THE SHADOWS: It would be helpful if you would stop comparing yourself to your sister. You are an individual, and individuals do not all blossom at the same rate. You have accomplishments you should be proud of. You play an instrument, you are in some honors courses, and you are a reader. The time you spend with your "nose jammed in a book" will pay off later because you are developing your mind.
I recommend you find an area of interest that your sister hasn't tried, and develop that. It's a way to excel at something in your own right, and make some new acquaintances so you aren't lost in the glare of your sister's spotlight.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 35-year-old woman. My boyfriend of two years and I are having issues because of his irresponsibility. He's a great guy with a heart of gold, but he can't keep a job. He has quit the same job three times within the last 12 months and now is fully unemployed.
I have been confiding in a female friend who happens to be a lesbian. Her understanding and compassion have brought us a lot closer than I could have ever imagined. Honestly, I am not attracted to women, but there's something going on in my heart for her. She knows how I feel and has expressed interest in taking our friendship to a different level, but I'm not sure I can do it. Homosexuality is not accepted in my family, and I wouldn't be comfortable about being open in public with another woman. Can you help me decide what to do? -- ANONYMOUS IN ALABAMA
DEAR ANONYMOUS: You may not be attracted to women, but you appear to be attracted to this one. Your disappointment in your boyfriend's inability to hold a job is not the issue here. The issue is your fear of your family's disapproval and your embarrassment about being open about your attraction if it turns out to be more powerful than you want to admit. Whether you ignore your feelings or follow through on them, you will pay a price. My advice is be true to yourself, but make sure you think long and hard before acting.
DEAR ABBY: I am recently divorced and have chosen to go back to using my maiden name. The divorce was a long time in coming and, frankly, I'm happy about it. What's bothering me is the reaction I get from most people about my name change. Many of them assume that a name change equals marriage -- so I am often congratulated. What lighthearted response can I give to those folks to set them straight? -- UNATTACHED IN ARLINGTON, TEXAS
DEAR UNATTACHED: Say, "Thank you for the congratulations, but this is the name I was born with."
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