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We’ve Seen it All: A Column with a Twist

September 22, 2023

Amira Oguntoyinbo

Welcome back to school! Thank you so much to everybody who participated in and tuned into “We’ve Seen it All” last semester. In case you are new here, this is how the advice column works: Bowdoin students can anonymously send in questions about anything—school, friendships, jobs, relationships, etc. Every two weeks, I’ll send the submissions to People Plus, a recreation center for older adults in Brunswick, and community members will write back with their advice.

As I wrote in my first article last semester, my friendship with Jane, whose name has been changed for privacy, was the inspiration behind this column. We connected in February 2021 and have called or seen each other almost every week since then. Jane, who is 87, is my role model, mentor and friend. After two years of asking for her advice, I realized that, despite being much older, Jane teaches me how to be young. I hoped that this column could be an opportunity for more students to hear fresh perspectives on life from people who have seen it all.

If you would like to submit your own question, the QR code here will send you to an anonymous google form. Or, just like last semester, if you’d like some privacy as you type out your deepest, darkest qualms, you can find the QR code on the inside wall of the bathroom stalls in Smith (let’s be honest, we all know you’re on your phone and doing some of your best contemplating in there). Finally, if you are curious about past questions and answers, please click here.

And with that, here are the first two questions of the semester!

Q: I have a crush on my friend. What should I do?

A:  “Be friendly, ask them about their likes and dislikes. Let them know you enjoy spending time with them. See what develops. The danger is sometimes if you make the romantic advance, and it fails, then you hurt the friendship.”

“Ask them to go for a cup of coffee—talk about everything. Enjoy their discussions and be sure to do something fun! Maybe ask them to go to a play or performance on campus.”

“Spending more time with this person is a good way to start to know them better. Find out what clubs or activities they enjoy and get involved in one. This shared activity can be a good source of conversation material that may eventually lead to more substantive talks.”

“Do nothing except keep on being a friend. Your ‘friend’ in time will tell you if the feelings you have are reciprocated.”

Q: How do you deal with grief at school? I don’t want my friends to worry, or my parents to feel that I’m ungrateful for not enjoying college.

A:  “Talk to a counselor if you are suffering. Keep busy and walk. Your parents will understand if you briefly give them information. Grief happens. Do yoga.”

“Honesty is best, but grieve as you need to.”

“I am currently suffering the loss of a child, and based on my experience, it is really important to be honest with yourself and with those who are the closest to you. Otherwise, you will carry an unnecessary burden and pass that burden along to others.”

“Being open and honest about your grief with your parents and relatives is essential to your mental and emotional health. Talking about grief with supportive adults who, I guarantee, have experienced much grief themselves, will help you along in the grieving process. Deaths and losses happen, and they do color one’s perspective, but know that dealing with feelings around these losses is the only way to heal. Your parents and relatives will be grateful that you trusted them with your pain.”

“You certainly should grieve, but at the same time, you have to move forward. I had two friends die a couple of years ago. It was a shock. It was so unjust and senseless. They were so kind; they volunteered everywhere and did so much good in the world. In my grief, I decided to emulate them and carry on their mission of volunteering and being kind to everyone. It made me feel positive, not negative. It made me feel like a better person for knowing them, and I was helping those around me.”


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