DEAR HARRIETTE: I am so proud of my friends from back home. I was talking to my mom the other day, and she told me about several of my buddies from home who have become very successful. One of them took over her family's business. Another is working in the medical field, and yet another is an executive in a tech company. When we were growing up, I know we dreamed about doing great stuff, but here it is that they are excelling. I want to contact them to congratulate them on all that they have accomplished. Part of me is a little shy to do so, though, because I have yet to get my own career together. How can I celebrate them without having them turn around and probe about my life? -- Proud and Reserved, Washington, D.C.
DEAR PROUD AND RESERVED: Go for it! You can acknowledge your friends by sending them a card with a brief handwritten note that expresses your congratulations on their success. You can email them a note of congratulations that reflects on the journey that they have undertaken. Finally, you can call.
When you are asked how you are doing and what you are doing, deflect back to them, saying this call is to honor them, not to talk about you. Ask more questions, and inevitably they will gladly proceed with telling you stories about their lives.
As far as your life is concerned, rather than feeling embarrassed by what you have not accomplished, sit down and make a plan for the future. Itemize your goals in manageable steps, and then work through them to get to the other side. You, too, can claim your success -- one step at a time!