DEAR HARRIETTE: I am neighbors with this boy who is the same age as me. When we were little, we would ride our bikes around town, make lemonade stands, play soccer in the yard, and do what little kids would do.
The issue is that we aren’t little kids anymore. My mom keeps pushing our friendship, but we are two different people in two different places in life. I don’t think our priorities and morals are the same.
I feel obligated to be friends because of my mom and because he doesn’t have many friends, but I don’t think it’s fair to me. I’m busy with my own life, and I’m not sure if I’m being selfish by neglecting him.
What do you think? What should I do?
Boy Next Door
DEAR BOY NEXT DOOR: Kindness goes a long way.
While you do not need to be close friends with this boy, it would be nice of you to maintain a rapport with him. Without disrupting your burgeoning social life, consider carving out time intermittently to check in with him. Become a good listener.
Learn more about him before writing him off. If he truly is into things that bother you, let your mom know you don’t want to be associated. But if mainly it is that he is awkward and isolated, be the kind one and extend a lifeline. A small effort on your part could mean so much for him.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have to deliver a speech tomorrow in front of 50 individuals. It is for my summer program’s closing ceremony.
Although public speaking is a fairly easy task to many, it’s rather daunting to me. I get so scared I’ll mess up or slur my words that I start to sweat. I’m even scared of forgetting what I have to say.
Do you have any public speaking tips?
DEAR STAGE FRIGHT: You can overcome your fear of public speaking. Start by making sure that you fully own the content that you will deliver.
Practice a lot. Then make a short list with keywords on a note card that will help you to stay on track as you are speaking. Before you walk out onto the stage, take three deep breaths and remind yourself that you can do this.
Consider this presentation a service to your class and community. When you think of your appearance as service, it can help you to focus on fulfilling the service rather than worrying about how well you are performing.
Before you speak, look out at your audience. Go from left to right, across the whole space. Smile at people when you make eye contact. Recognize that everyone there is supporting you. Notice the people who are smiling back at you. They truly want you to do a good job — I promise you. Even if it is only for selfish reasons, people want to see and hear something good. So, believe it or not, they are cheering for you!
Stand with your feel firmly planted on the floor, look out at your audience and begin. If you ever feel a little nervous, look at the people who had kind eyes before. Their smiling faces will help buoy you through your presentation. You can do it!
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 protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.