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Friendships and futures

February 16, 2024

Kaya Patel

Welcome back to the final semester of the advice column with a twist! 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. In the past, every two weeks, I sent submissions to People Plus, a recreation center for older adults in Brunswick, and an older community member would reply with their advice.

To get more in-depth responses to your questions, I will be interviewing People Plus members in person this semester. For this first article, Rita, Edna and Jeanne chatted with me as they played Monday morning Mahjong. I’m so grateful for their openness, and I hope you similarly enjoy reading their responses below!

I’m nervous about upcoming job interviews. Do you have any advice for leaving a lasting impression?

“Gosh, how many times did I go to an interview? I had them for years and years and years. After a while, I kind of just relaxed and decided, ‘I’m going to be who I am.’ Be proud of yourself. And remember that ‘eye-to-eye’ is important. Never be looking at your shoes. They may grill you, and you may find yourself losing it. So be comfortable before you go in … just don’t overdo it. Don’t bring coffee or chocolates.” – Rita

“Prepare for the interview —dress accordingly. When you walk in, make sure you have good posture. If they outstretch their hand, take it. Don’t sit down before they do. Don’t bring extra things, as Rita said. Look directly at them. If you’ve been called in for the interview, know that you already have the necessary information and background. Be confident.”   – Jeanne

What do you think about living your adulthoods in Maine? Should I stay here after college?

“I was on a bus in Germany once. I was looking at the hills and thinking how drab they looked. It was fall, and the colors were just not the same. Somebody behind me said, ‘Oh look at all the colors.’ I laughed to myself because that’s not what fall should look like! A lot of us here love the change of seasons. Maine is our home.” – Edna

“Being in Maine is great, but there may be things in Boston or New York that work better for young students to continue exploring their passions. But you will always remember Maine. You went to an excellent college here. Use that, and say, ‘What can I do to keep myself thinking and moving?’” – Rita

“I don’t think young people should think about Maine as a backwoods place. It’s very different from when I was growing up. I mean, over in Cooks Corner you’ve got aerospace industries! You can do anything here! But keep in mind that what you choose once may not continue to work, and that’s okay. Also keep in mind that choosing where to live is a privilege. Some people don’t have the opportunity to choose.”  – Jeanne

My friend just told me she likes me. It feels awkward now. How do I get our friendship back?

“It’s hard because there are just some relationships, platonic or romantic, that are so wonderful and fulfilling. Especially in new situations, I think there’s a feeling of uncertainty and fear that you might lose that relationship. It’s difficult to be clear and upfront, so power to you for not giving a mixed message.” – Jeanne

How long should you stick to a job that makes you unhappy?

“You shouldn’t. But it’s not easy because you have a lot of things telling you how to feel. How will you get past your phone, your computer and all the people talking to you? Look for that feeling that you’re giving something to the world. I always asked myself, ‘Am I making a contribution that’s worthwhile? And is it also worthwhile for me?’” – Rita

“As short a time as possible. But importantly, make sure that you can afford to leave.” – Edna

“It’s important to be self-protective. You just need to know: What next? Why are you unhappy? Is it the field, people or hours? There is strength to understanding, ‘you are important to you.’ But, as Edna said, there are times when you can’t leave. This is the beginning of your life. So, if you can afford to, leave. Be open to new opportunities. It may be a situation where you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” – Jeanne

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