Christoph Niemann

This summer, I lost a great job, and my boyfriend dumped me. These events weren’t linked, though the job loss may have hurried my boyfriend out the door. I’ve been crawling out of the ditch ever since. I started working again, not at the level I was at, but it’s a start. And I’m sort of open to dating. But I’m clearly not 100 percent. My mother keeps sending me these annoying articles about resilience. I feel like she’s telling me I’m not bouncing back fast enough. Thoughts?


When I was a kid, I had this inflatable, pint-size Bozo the Clown. You could knock that baby down, and it would bounce right back up again. That’s what I thought resilience was: scrambling to our feet and pretending that everything is fine. Wrong! Standing up again is important, of course, but resilience also involves working through hurt and shame (and a palette of un-pretty emotions) and finding some compassion for ourselves, as well as optimism.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably had some nutty thoughts lately: “I didn’t deserve that good job,” or “I’ll never land another boyfriend.” Don’t buy it. You know why? History. Your past accomplishments didn’t happen by accident, and I suspect you’ll have plenty more. Sit with those unkind feelings about yourself until you can muster up some generosity. And when you do, that’s resilience: knocked down, but getting up stronger and kinder.

As for your mom, she may not be your ideal companion right now. The thought of you down in the dumps may make her anxious. But you can’t rush this process to please her. And you don’t sound like a moper to me. So, thank her for the articles and read them — or don’t. But you’ve got this, Sara, in your own good time.

My oldest friend and I are 17. We’ve known each other since preschool. Over the last year, I’ve watched her Instagram become pretty much dedicated to pictures of herself in push-up bras with blonder and blonder hair. It’s gross! As a guy, I’d like to tell her that her Instas make her look stupid. But my sister told me it’s none of my business. What do you think?


Well, I don’t agree with your sister. But I also don’t think you should speak with your friend until we tinker with your attitude. I get that it’s disconcerting to watch your smart, multidimensional friend turn herself into a selfie sex objects. But have you considered that she may feel pressure (from boys and other girls) to present herself as a Barbie doll? She may also be enjoying her newfound sexiness. So, if you speak with her, do it to learn what she’s thinking, not to render judgment. As a woman, she already gets plenty of that. Suggested soundtrack (from your birth year): Madonna’s “What It Feels Like For A Girl.”

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