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We’ve seen it all: guilt and self doubt

April 14, 2023

We have a lot to cover this week, so I’ll jump right into it. Welcome back to the advice column with a twist. This is how it works: all questions are anonymously sent in to the QR code, and older community members from People Plus—a community recreation center for older adults in Brunswick—write back with their advice. If you tend to self-doubt, overthink or worry, this week’s article is for you.

Q. One of my parents also went to Bowdoin, and my legacy status probably helped me get in. I often wonder if I deserve to be here and am worried that I stole another student’s spot. How do I deal with this guilt?

A. “Do your best—help others. Then go out and change the world. Be thankful. Pay it forward.”

“Having worked in alumni relations and admissions, I know no one would be accepted if [they] weren’t eligible. As a legacy status, it usually means the admissions team looks at your application first. You would not have been admitted without qualifying. The best part about being a legacy is you already have a history with the College, so it most likely means you really want to be at Bowdoin. I am a Bowdoin grad. I started out taking courses as a spouse of a student. I was lucky to do well in those classes and was finally accepted as a full-time student. To stop feeling guilty, try your hardest and prove [that] you deserve to be at Bowdoin. My big recommendation is to understand you deserve to be there because you proved it to the admissions team.”

“I think you should be proud of your legacy status. I understand your concern. I would just let it go and do your best.”

“If you earned the spot, there should be no guilt. That’s a difficult school, and you probably didn’t need any help.”

“Don’t worry about what other people think. Instead, focus on what you think about the situation. And then do your best.”

“Do not take on guilt. What is, was meant to happen. You deserve all that you receive. Enjoy.”

Q. How do I stay confident in my decisions and not question myself, just because someone else is doing something different from me?

A. “Be yourself. Overthinking can make you anxious. Anxiety can bring you down.”

“You are not the same as that other person. Your circumstances and your plans are not theirs. Live your own life.”

“To stay confident in your decisions, you first need to figure out what factored into those decisions. If a core value of yours made you decide the way you did, stick with the decision. If it was anything besides a core value, you may want to rethink.”

“That usually isn’t an issue for me, but if I do question my decision, I run it past my sisters and close friends. I’ve never had trouble doing things differently from others.”

“Really think about it—write down pros and cons. Talk with a mentor or a trusted friend or relative. Go with it. You can always re-evaluate and adjust how and what you are doing as you go along. Nothing has to be set in stone.”

Q. What is the best piece of advice that you have been given?

A. “Don’t worry about what other people think of you. They’re busy worrying about what you think of them.”

“Gosh, that is quite a question. One is: be yourself and do the best you can. Another is: be kind to everyone and love everyone. Also: ban assault rifles.”

“Best piece of advice? Certainly not from my parents. I think it was the philosophy of my boss when I worked for the Peace Corps … She told me that we can never predict what is coming tomorrow, but we can always sort out the good from the chaos of life.”

“Think prospectively.”

“The best advice I was ever given had two parts: when faced with many tasks, tackle the big ones first and there are no big tasks, what appears overwhelming is just a lot of small tasks clumped together. Break down the seemingly overwhelming task into small parts and then, small task by small task, the job will get done.”

Q. How do I get over my ex, especially when I still see them around campus?

A. “Get over your ex by not engaging and not obsessing or thinking about them. Disengage or unfriend them on social media. You do not have to know what they are doing or who they might be seeing. There is no place for revenge or judgment. Out of sight, out of mind. Move on.”

“Enjoy your experiences. Don’t let your ex interfere with your great intelligence.”

“The best way to get over an ex is to let time ease the pain. Meanwhile, engage in activities with people you enjoy and focus on your studies.”


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