DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a housekeeper on the weekends for extra cash, but I don't tell this to anyone except my boyfriend because I am embarrassed. Almost all of my mother's and father's family worked in domestic service for generations. None of them was educated, and this is how they earned a living. They worked hard and saved money so that we could have a better life. And my siblings and I do the same.
I work a full-time job, but I need extra cash. I have this "secret" extra job that takes up almost all of my free time, so my friends don't seem to understand why I am never free on the weekends. They are starting to become very suspicious of my whereabouts. Should I come clean to them about my second job or keep it my secret? -- Scrub Scrub, Philadelphia
DEAR SCRUB SCRUB: The first thing you need to do is recognize that there is no shame in your housekeeping work. I get that you can feel that way, but I encourage you to think about your family's history. You wouldn't be where you are without your family proudly doing their work. The fact that you know how to clean well enough to be hired to do it is a blessing.
My maternal grandmother was a domestic worker until she was 93 years old, when my mother forced her to retire. When I questioned her about why she was continuing to do this work, she challenged me and told me that she loved her work and the people she worked for. She added that when the day came that I would have work, it would be my job to love my work and those with whom I worked, too. She saw work as an honorable pursuit, and that work of all kinds should be respected.
I recommend that you tell your friends that you have a part-time job that takes up your weekend time. Feel free to tell them what it is if they ask. Be proud that you are making choices that will help you to meet your goals.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I have outgrown many of my friends. They constantly put me down by saying I changed. Although it is true that I have changed because of life events in the past year, I don't think this is a reason to be putting me down. I have tried to keep in contact with these friends, but I find it difficult to have anything to talk about. Is it time for me to bow out of this friend group? -- Not That Girl Anymore, Parsippany, New York
DEAR NOT THAT GIRL ANYMORE: Assess what you want and need. You say you have outgrown your friends. If they no longer treat you with love and respect, perhaps it is time to move on. Consider each one individually. If any of the relationships are worth salvaging, reach out to those people one by one to see if you mutually want to continue your friendship. Otherwise, you can naturally just move on. Not all friendships are meant to last forever.
(Harriette Cole is a life stylist 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.)