DEAR HARRIETTE: When I was in primary school, I had a hard time getting along with other kids. My family was less fortunate, and people saw me as the poor girl and seemed to not want to play or even work on group projects with me. This brought me down several times, but it also encouraged me to continue working hard to become the successful woman I am today.
One of the kids who used to torment me constantly recently reached out to me to congratulate me on my company’s success. I simply replied “Thank you” and exited the conversation. He went on to tell me about his current situation and how he is in need of a couple of bucks. He hasn’t directly asked me for money, but I’m sure that it was implied. I know that I can provide him with some money, but I’m still hurt from his mean words in school. What should I do? -- Still Hurting, Baltimore
DEAR STILL HURTING: Congratulations on creating a successful life for yourself. The amazing reality for many people who were tormented as children is that they figure out how to rise above the fray and design dynamic lives for themselves. You do not have to bail out whoever asks you to just because you're doing well now. You can be generous with whomever you choose.
What you may want to do with this person is to take time to have a chat with him. Get together and listen to his story. If you can give him advice on how he can climb out of his hole, do so. Before you leave, tell him how hurtful his words and actions were when you were kids. Make sure he knows how isolating and humiliating it was for you when he and other kids judged you based on your lack of resources. Then wish him well. You have the capacity to forgive this man and hope for the best for him -- without giving him money.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m a high school student struggling with finding a balance between school, basketball practice and work. I take about three AP classes, and by the time I'm done with my activities, I tend to be too tired to complete my school assignments on time.
Every time I get the chance to take a break, I find myself going straight to sleep when I know that my sleeping hours should be used to complete work. Basketball is the only way that I know I can get into my dream school. Keeping my job is a must because I need the money to help support my mom and me at home. Do you have any tips on how I can balance roles of a student, athlete and employee at the same time? -- Unbalanced, Cleveland
DEAR UNBALANCED: Your goals are admirable, but you may be hurting yourself by taking on so much. If you are unable to keep up good grades because you are too tired to manage your life, that is a clear sign that something has to give. Speak to your guidance counselor and develop a strategy to get to college. You may want to take one fewer AP course so that you can have time to focus on the other two. You may need to cut your work hours a bit to add an hour or two back in for sleep and homework. Refine your schedule so that you can manage it.
(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.)