DEAR HARRIETTE: I love country music and plan on attending a country music festival over the summer. When I invited my friends to this event, they ridiculed me for even wanting to attend. My beliefs do not align with the singer’s or most of the listeners'; however, I enjoy the music itself. Am I wrong to be going to a place where I won’t have much in common with the eventgoers? -- Country Loving, Philadelphia
DEAR COUNTRY LOVING: Do not let your friends or your political views keep you from your music. What’s very interesting about American culture, in particular, is that music has proven to be a conduit for opening people’s minds to other ideas. This has been true across party lines and belief systems.
You should go to the music festival with an open mind. Talk to people while you are there. Look for like-minded souls. I bet you will find a few! This may be your opportunity to expand your friend group without having to alter your worldview. You can be you and navigate your life in many different environments.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker "Ilana" uses our company email to inform us about her poetry events. I believe this is soliciting and find it incredibly annoying. I like Ilana, but I don’t care to use my limited personal time attending her events. Should I speak to human resources about this? I think she is stepping over a line as an employee by emailing dozens of workers about a non-work-related event. -- Not Coming, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR NOT COMING: I recommend that you simply ignore Ilana. You do not have to go to her events just because she has invited you. While it may seem annoying to you that she is soliciting you using office email, you do not want to be the one to squash your co-worker’s dreams.
If she ups the ante and badgers you and others about attendance, that’s a different matter. When that happens, speak to her first. Tell her your opinion -- that she is crossing the line of appropriateness at work to keep pressuring staff to support her extracurricular activities. Ask her to stop. Being direct is the mature approach. Should she ignore you and continue to solicit you for these events, go to human resources. When you bring grievances to HR, be sure to be specific and unemotional. It will not help you to act frustrated or irritated. Instead, have records to show the many email solicitations that have been sent via company email. Add the dates (to the best of your recollection) when Ilana has approached you and others during the workday to try to get you to attend her events. Explain that this makes you feel uncomfortable, and you need HR’s support to get her to stop.
(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.)