DEAR HARRIETTE: My history teacher has been doing drugs outside his working hours. I know this because I saw him hanging out with drug dealers last week on the street, and I watched him exchange money for a bag of drugs. I like my teacher as he has taught me a lot about ways to improve my knowledge of history and how to be a hardworking student.
My teacher's drug habits do not affect his professionalism while he is teaching. That being said, it has become evident to me that I am taking advice and learning from someone who regularly engages in activities that I am prohibited from and that make me uncomfortable. He has also taught me never to tattle on people, especially those I respect. Still, I do not feel comfortable approaching him to tell him how I feel or trying to explain what is right in this situation. Do you think I should try talking to his superior, my parents or his colleagues, or do I do my best to forget about it? -- Concerned About Teacher, Akron, Ohio
DEAR CONCERNED ABOUT TEACHER: I do not recommend that you address this directly with your teacher. An active drug addict is likely to deny his behavior and possibly retaliate against you to protect himself. Start with your parents. Tell them what you saw and why you are concerned. Ask them to help you navigate this. While you may not want to endanger your teacher’s job, you need to understand that it is he who is jeopardizing his future by using drugs in the first place. It may be that the school will help him get help to quit using drugs. Get your parents to help you figure out next steps.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I grew up in an affluent town, but in a not-so-affluent family. Everyone I went to school with had tons of money, but my family never did. As I’m getting older (I’m 18), my friends are starting to want to go out and do activities that cost a lot. I don’t want to miss out on the dinners, shopping sprees and outings my friends go on because I get bad “FOMO” (fear of missing out), but I can’t keep up with their lifestyles. They all use their parents’ credit cards, so money is never an issue for them. I’ve been saying no to a few of the things that they do, but they always try to pressure me to tag along. How can I partake in the activities my friends go on when half the time I can’t afford them? -- If I Were a Rich Girl, Greenwich, Connecticut
DEAR IF I WERE A RICH GIRL: It is likely that your friends already know why you can’t hang with them. You should be honest and direct with them. Say that you would love to do all of the things they invite you to participate in, but you simply can’t afford it. Tell them you will hang with them when you can, and that’s it. If someone offers to cover your dinner or other expenses on occasion, that’s great, but don’t ask for 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.)