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DEAR ABBY: Do you have any advice on how I can make friends with people my own age in my hometown? It's a small college town. I recently graduated from the local university and still live at home with my parents. Most of the people I socialized with in school have moved back home after graduating, found work, and seem uninterested in contacting me, or they're still in school and very busy.

I've had some success making friends online, but my internet friends live out of state or abroad. I work as a substitute teacher and would like to make friends with other subs and teachers, but I don't get many chances to interact with them.

I have always been somewhat of an introvert and homebody and don't get out much. I want to change that before I leave for grad school next year, but I'm not sure where to start. -- HOMEBODY IN OHIO

DEAR HOMEBODY: Start making it a priority to get out of your parents' house and meet new people. The first thing to do is figure out where your interests lie. Surely in a college town there are organizations or groups that would interest you.

If you want to be more physically active, consider joining a gym. If you are political, reach out to the party of your choice and volunteer. I'm sure you will be welcomed with open arms. If you're an animal lover, raise money for a pet rescue organization. While you're doing good, you will be getting to know other like-minded individuals.

And remember that social skills don't always come naturally to people. The more you give yourself a chance to practice, the better you will become at them.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

DEAR ABBY: My father has a problem with food. He has no portion control. He rarely eats fruits or vegetables, never exercises, and is addicted to cigarettes. He admits he could do better but makes no effort to improve his health. To be honest, Dad is lazy and gluttonous.

I'm worried he will have cardiovascular health issues in the future. My siblings and mother share my concern. I am a recent college graduate with a paying job, and I'm living at home temporarily to save money. I'm willing to exercise with him and can commit to encouraging him daily. How do I intervene without seeming disrespectful (considering I'm still under his roof)? -- WORRIED ABOUT DAD

DEAR WORRIED: How about putting it this way: "Dad, I love you so much. I want to have you around for a long time. But I'm worried sick that you're so sedentary, your diet isn't healthy and you smoke. If you don't start doing something about these things, they are going to bite you in the butt. Please let me help you to become more active. I'd love to exercise with you, if you're willing. I know it would make you feel better if you do."

If your father is so addicted to nicotine that he can't quit on his own, suggest he talk to his doctor about a smoking cessation plan. If you say these things with love, it should not be regarded as disrespectful.

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