DEAR ABBY: I'm scheduled to go on a vacation with my mother and sister. It seemed like a fun idea during the planning, but as the date approaches, I realize it might not be possible for my sister and me to get along and remain civil during the trip.
We are in our mid-to-late 20s now, and I was hoping we had matured enough to handle our differences calmly. Recent events, however, have proven otherwise. Our relationship has deteriorated to the point that she's triggered by anything I say or do, and it's impossible to talk to her.
We've never had much in common, and our personalities are like oil and water. I'm thinking about backing out, even though I was looking forward to visiting New England and seeing my favorite singer in concert. I don't usually take time off from work, and I don't want to risk wasting vacation days possibly being miserable walking on eggshells. I know arguing with her will lead to nothing productive. How can I handle the situation differently? -- FINISHED SISTER IN NEW YORK
DEAR SISTER: You stated that you were hoping that you and your sister had matured enough to manage a vacation together in spite of your differences. Rather than back out at the last minute, why not choose to be the more mature sister and simply not argue with her? That way you can see New England and enjoy your favorite singer in concert. You do not have to spend every spare moment with her; you are not joined at the hip.
If the trip proves to be unpleasant, agree to join your mother and sister under only limited circumstances -- perhaps at breakfast or a dinner -- in order to keep peace in the family.
DEAR ABBY: I'll soon be 40, and I still have no idea what I want to be when I "grow up." I don't know what I'm interested in doing or what my skills are. It's not for lack of trying. I've taken aptitude tests, IQ tests and personality tests, and I'm still no closer to any answers. I do not know how to choose a job and just go for it. This may be why I never graduated from college -- I kept switching majors.
I live with a family member and owe $25,000 in college loans. I can't afford a car and the financial stress is killing me, not to mention the emotional and mental stress and low self-esteem. I need help. I should have had all this figured out ages ago. Any good, solid advice would be appreciated. -- LOST IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR LOST: Go online to see if you qualify to have any part of your student loan debt forgiven. It may be possible if you have been making payments for many years. As to your inability to choose a career, at this point, finding any job for which you are qualified that will pay enough to put food on the table and a roof over your head would be appropriate.
If there's low-cost psychological counseling from your county's department of mental health services or a local college or university, it could be helpful in getting you unblocked and to lift your self-esteem, so it couldn't hurt to reach out for that, too. Inertia is your enemy.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
Andrews McMeel Syndication