DEAR HARRIETTE: I have gotten into serious arguments with my neighbors and friends about the upcoming election. It has gotten so bad that I wonder if we can survive it. My thing is I am not trying to make you vote the way I plan to vote -- although, of course, I would like that. My thing is I want everybody to register to vote and then to make it their business to vote on Election Day. It seems like such a fundamental thing, and yet there are so many apathetic people out there. I just don't understand it. Here is the one thing that all of us can do to have a personal impact on the future of our country. Why would anyone want to throw that away? My friends say it doesn't matter and their vote isn't going to make a difference anyway. How can I get them to understand that that is not true? -- Right to Vote
DEAR RIGHT TO VOTE: Your friends may not like this, but I would start with a history lesson. The right to vote is a privilege that is not and was not originally guaranteed. It took women and blacks many years to be able to claim the right to vote. Even now, in some areas, minorities are challenged due to gerrymandering, lack of polling stations and staff. It literally took blood, sweat, tears and litigation to earn the right to vote.
Many elections have been decided on the smallest number of votes -- individual votes cast for a candidate. Assure them that their vote counts for president and all of the other offices on the ballot -- roles that directly affect their lives. Ask them if they want to have any meaningful control over the quality of their lives. If so, they should cast their ballot.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent time this summer with a group of people who were already friends. Mostly it was fun, but I never quite felt like I belonged, so to speak. I hosted a few gatherings and people came, but then I learned that there were other gatherings that some of them hosted that they didn't invite me to. I think I am being too sensitive, but I did notice that I was never fully included in the fold. I also think I may have tried to dive in too deep with them. I have other friends, but since it was COVID time, I didn't want to add any extra people to the mix. Right now, I'm feeling a little uncomfortable about my place in this group. Should I just let it go? I did have a good summer, and they were nice to me. -- Out of Place
DEAR OUT OF PLACE: This summer was strange for most of us. Because of the pandemic, people were not able to move as freely as in the past. Many people remained completely isolated from others. The good news is that you did get a chance to socialize a bit. Given that you were with new people, it makes sense that you might feel a little less close to them. Further, it could be natural that there would be subsets of gatherings, some of which were not for you. Due to COVID-19 they may have organized smaller gatherings, or the core group may have gotten together on their own.
Don't overthink it. Be grateful for the good times you had and move on. Look for opportunities to connect with your own core friend group -- virtually or in person while social distancing. Evaluate who you want to be around and make that your mission.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)