DEAR ABBY: I am 18 and sad all the time. I have never had a boyfriend, and have struggled in the past with anxiety and loneliness. It has been a rollercoaster year for me -- a tough first year of college, watching all of my friends enter meaningful relationships. All I can do is be ashamed of the fact that I'm struggling while others are thriving. I need help, but don't know where to turn. -- A COMPLETE MESS IN OHIO
DEAR COMPLETE MESS: Before I start offering you advice, please let me point out that the first year of college is a huge adjustment for everyone. You're away from your usual support systems, adjusting to a new environment and new responsibilities. Instead of comparing yourself to your friends who are entering "meaningful relationships," please look around at all of the students who are single like you are. If you do, you will realize they outnumber the ones who are coupled up.
Because you are sad for extended periods, you should head over to the student health center and talk about it with a counselor. He or she will help you find ways to overcome your feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression -- but only if someone who is qualified knows you're having trouble. And please don't waste one minute being "ashamed." What you're experiencing is not uncommon.