DEAR HARRIETTE: I need to provide a photo to an organization I’m joining, and I don’t know what to do. I am a woman of a certain age, and I much prefer my older pictures when I looked young and vibrant. I’m a professional woman, and I have worked very hard to achieve many goals, which didn’t leave too much time for glam or exercise. I’m about 40 pounds overweight. I look OK, but I don’t love the recent photos of me. The only professional photos I have are about 10 years old. I suppose I could wait for a few days and get another photo taken, but I fear I will hate capturing myself as I look today. Can I use an old photo of me for this organization? -- Reflection, Chicago
DEAR REFLECTION: I totally understand why you would be inclined to use an old photo, but I want to discourage you. This is because when people meet you, it is best for them to meet in person the same face they saw in a photo. If you look significantly different, that first interaction can be awkward. You should get a professional photo taken. You can ask the photographer to lightly retouch the photo to take away major blemishes while keeping your image consistent with who you are.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just found an old journal and read a bit of it, and it disturbed me a lot. The journal was from about 15 years ago. What I was writing about then, my troubles, seemed like exactly what I’m going through today. Even though I have spent a big part of my life believing that I was working on improving myself and working on particular personality traits or behaviors in order to get better, when I read this journal I felt like such a loser. So much time has passed, and I still suffer from the same stuff. Is it even worth it to try to be a better person? It’s not that there’s anything horrible about me, but the little stuff adds up. What can I do? -- Stuck, Baltimore
DEAR STUCK: You are not alone. Most people live with their demons or flaws or personality quirks their whole lives. That doesn’t mean you should give up on aspects of your behavior you do not like, though. Consider finding that old journal as a wake-up call.
You have more work to do to improve on aspects of your personality, and you can get to work on these things right now. Write down the things you want to address, and then strategically figure out what to do. In some instances, you may want to seek professional help so experts can support your development. What you want to avoid is pretending you have no options. You do!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)