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We’ve Seen It All: Anxiety, embarrassment and growth

December 1, 2023

Eva Ahn

Welcome to this year’s last “advice column with a twist!” In case you’re new here, this is how it works: Student questions are anonymously sent through a QR code, and community members from People Plus—a recreation center for older adults in Brunswick—write back with their advice.

As promised in the last edition, this week we have advice about anxiety and embarrassment. But thanks to all the Bowdoin students who submitted questions this semester, we have a few extra topics as well. Most of all, thank you so much to People Plus for all their help in coordinating this exchange and offering such helpful advice!


“I have been feeling anxious about everything recently and can’t control it. Do you have any advice on how to calm down and stop worrying about everything?”


“First, do you have a friend, parent or teacher that you can talk to? Second, can you understand what it is in your predicament that is making you feel anxious? Is it friends, parents, a boyfriend or money? Depending on what it is, you can talk to different people. A friend might have enough advice for some things, but a teacher, parent or somebody that isn’t within your territory might be the one to talk to. If they aren’t as involved in the situation, they could offer a more distant perspective. It’s more open.” – Beth

“If I feel anxious, I’ll go out, walk and take three deep breaths.” – Anonymous


“Should I transfer schools to be closer to my family? Is it better to be far away for personal growth, or should I take advantage of spending time with my family when I can?”


“Personal growth is important to any student. Long distance can be fun, or it can cause anxiety being away from home. Discuss your idea with the family.” – Rita

“I went to Deerfield Academy and Columbia College. I would have liked to spend time with my family. There should be enough distance for both growth and family time. Perhaps two to three hours of distance is good.” – Lenore

“Choose family. You are still away at school and can go home for visits easier.” – Anonymous


“How can I get my two friends that are fighting to talk to each other?”


“Oh dear. I think it’s a good thing that people today are much more open to talking about what bothers them. Maybe you can find out what the fight is about from each friend individually. Then, you might be able to get them together and say, ‘I listened to both of you. Let’s talk about it because if you talk about it, maybe we can fix it.’ If they don’t want to talk, maybe the friendship is over. Sometimes the fight is not that bad, but sometimes the problem goes way back.” – Beth

“Invite them out separately but for the same meet up and start the conversation.” – Anonymous


“How do I choose a career if I don’t know whether or not it is something I want to do for the rest of my life?”


“Many students change their mind in the first two years of college wondering what to do. Keep an open mind, and your career may occur!” – Rita

“Depends on personality. Liberal arts is a great start in picking a career. First careers often lead to other careers.” – Lenore

“You can always change. Few people know what they want to do the rest of their life.” – Anonymous


“I feel embarrassed about something I did, and now I worry that everyone knows. What should I do?”


“Talk about it!” – Anonymous

“Being embarrassed isn’t an anxiety problem. Sometimes one might forget to close the door, or go to the store without a list of items. Life happens. Relax.” – Anonymous

“It’s important to understand, ‘Is this something that actually should bother me, or am I not understanding what really happened?’ Think about whether the embarrassment took place in front of a group or one person. If it only involves one friend, just say, ‘Sally, can I talk to you about something. Did what I did bother you?’ Ask them if your action was important to your relationship, and if you should feel embarrassed. If it involved a bigger group, you could talk to one person in that group and ask if your action bothered them. The people you trust will help you decide if you should worry or not.” – Beth


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