Sense & Sensitivity

Former Student Feels Guilty for Not Staying in Touch

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a social media message from one of my college professors. It was so nice to hear from him after more than 30 years, especially since he was a big help to me when I was struggling with some social issues at school. He believed in me and pushed me to stay focused. I hadn’t thought about him for a long time, and then I got this really nice holiday greeting.

On one hand, I feel bad about not staying in touch with my professor over the years. On the other hand, I am happy that he is still alive and doing well and thinking about me. I want to respond to him. Should I apologize for being MIA for so long, or just jump in and start talking to him? -- Reconnected

DEAR RECONNECTED: Stay in the moment and respond to him with all the joy that you feel. Tell him about what you have been doing with your life, and ask him about his own. Thank him for getting in touch with you. Suggest that the two of you stay better connected moving forward. Then take the initiative. Send him emails or give him a call from time to time. You may want to include it on your calendar or as an alarm on your smartphone. Perhaps you can call this professor once a quarter, or something like that. It will be meaningful to him for you to reach out with some consistency. You can always fill the time with stories about what’s happening in your life. As he was your teacher and encourager, he will surely be thrilled to hear what’s happening and offer advice as needed. Just make sure that you find out about his life as well. If he needs support, do your best to offer help.

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