DEAR ABBY: I am a soldier in Afghanistan who is single with few friends, if you would even call them that. We work 24/7. No days off, no breaks. It's not an easy life. You would not believe how nice it is to receive a message from family or friends.
Don't get me wrong, I have a loving family who support me and everything I do. When I first got here, I'd get a message from them at least once a week. But now that I am seven months into a 12-month deployment, it has been almost two months since I have gotten anything.
Now, I know if I reach out and send a message -- which I have done -- I'll get replies, but am I wrong for not wanting to have to do that? Is it wrong to wish that I could come in, relax, and find a message waiting for me? I know they love me and are busy with their lives, but sometimes it seems that I am forgotten. It would be comforting to know someone is thinking about me. Any day now could be my last. -- DEPLOYED SOLDIER
DEAR DEPLOYED SOLDIER: Because you're feeling lonely and forgotten, it's important to let your family and friends back home know how you feel. They are not mind readers. You say you heard from them in the early months of your deployment. But have you reached out to them recently? If you haven't, they may assume you are being kept so busy that you are unable to stay in touch with them. The surest way to get what you need is to communicate -- and that applies to more situations in life than this one.
DEAR ABBY: I am a senior in high school in Texas. Everyone has decided which college they want to go to and what they want to be. I have no clue. It is frustrating, because when adults ask what my plans for the future are and I say I don't know, they look at me like I'm stupid.
I feel 18 years isn't long enough to figure all that out. I am an introvert, and I would really like to open up a cute little cafe in New York when I am older. But every time I tell someone this is what I'd like to do, they ask how I'm going to make money at it. They're right -- I can't make a living off a coffee shop, especially with the high cost of living in New York.
I'm lost and don't know what to do. I have less than a year to figure things out, and it's starting to stress me. Please give me some advice. I need a friend. -- LOST IN TEXAS
DEAR LOST: You not only need a friend, you also need a counselor to help you find direction. If there isn't one at your school, consider discussing this with a career counselor at a nearby university or community college. Some courses in business administration would be valuable for you so you can learn the nuts and bolts about running a business and avoid common mistakes that might cause yours to fail.
Some classes in commercial cooking would also be helpful. If there isn't a trade school nearby that offers them, consider working for a year or two in the restaurant industry to see how it functions. Many of the best chefs in the world started out that way, and you will learn quickly if this is something you really want to pursue.
P.S. Being an introvert doesn't have to stop you, if you partner with someone who's a people person to work the front of the shop and teach you the art of "schmoozing."