DEAR HARRIETTE: I worked with one company for several years on a freelance basis. I recently completed my last job with them, as I took another job. I thought we parted on good terms, but I question it now because I have not received my last check.
In the past, the company always paid on time. In fact, it was one of my only clients to be consistent with pay. Now that I am no longer working for the company, it has missed a pay period. I am kind of freaked out. How should I handle this? I don’t want to burn any bridges, and I definitely need the money I am owed. What should I do? -- One More Check
DEAR ONE MORE CHECK: Stay positive and assume that the company made a mistake in payroll. Contact the person who handles payment and -- pleasantly -- ask about the status of your compensation. Ask if you need to resubmit the paperwork and when you can expect to receive payment. If you do not hear back, or if the response is unsatisfactory, reach out to your direct contact to ask for support in getting your invoice paid. Continue to be pleasant, assuming the positive unless and until you receive communication that suggests that the company does not intend to pay your invoice. In that case, you may need to ask an attorney to intervene.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been worried for a long time. As a college student, you are required to know what you want to do. I have an idea of what I want, but it’s not set in stone. I love to draw and write. I have created big projects for myself and shared them with others. My dream is to one day show my work to the world, but that dream is a hit-or-miss proposition. I need to think realistically, since some make it big, while others don’t. I am currently aiming to go to law school and become a lawyer, but I have been having second thoughts.
Lately, I have been looking into fine arts schools so that I can focus on what I like and improve my writing and art. However, I don’t want my family to think that my dreams are useless and a waste of a college education. I am worried that I am not following my dreams, but following other people’s expectations. It feels like where I am at is just a big waste of time. I am at a crossroads, and I don’t know what to do. I am almost a junior, and I am all over the place. What should I do? -- Scared for the Future
DEAR SCARED FOR THE FUTURE: You cannot live anyone else’s life. You have to live your own. If you do not want to be an attorney, don’t go that route. It’s way too time-consuming and expensive to pursue -- unless you are committed to it. If your love is the arts, start doing some serious research to determine what types of jobs exist in your areas of interest. Then find an educational program that will teach you how to do that. You may be able to have a job in the arts as you also develop your creative talents for a fine arts career. Figure out what is possible, and go 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.)