Dear Annie: I am a 14-year-old girl. I am arguably the smartest in the school and have never lacked confidence.
I admit I am prideful and have never questioned my self-worth. I am always the one in the group with a sarcastic remark, although I am always careful never to hurt anyone with my words. I consider myself literate beyond my years.
This past week, my friends said they didn’t think I could be truly “nice.” I don’t question my friends.
I know they are the best of the group, and I am thankful for them. But one of them described me as “cold.” This upsets me a great deal, as I thought I had been doing better opening up to people and being less aloof. I thought I was succeeding, but I have failed miserably.
I don’t particularly want to be Miss Congeniality, but I also don’t want to be labelled as cruel or cold. I am fun loving and can be sweet and compassionate.
It appears to be overlooked that I do volunteer service regularly and have befriended “outcasts” when others wouldn’t look their way. I really do try, and I know my personality is getting in the way.
But I don’t know how else to present myself.
I don’t want to alienate myself from others. It sounds really stupid, but I want to be the stereotypical girl everyone wants to be with. Just a little.
How can I open up after 14 years of acting totally self-sufficient? — Disappointed
Dear Disappointed: You sound smart, sassy and completely self-centered. Nearly every sentence in your letter has “I” in it. It seems as if you behave in order to be admired, and this is what your friends are reacting to.
If you truly want to open up, take a genuine interest in your friends without comparing their accomplishments to yours.
Ask how they’re doing and how they feel. See if you can make it through the day without saying something snarky. Don’t brag about yourself. Make your friends feel important to you. You can be assertive and still develop some humility. It will help.
Dear Annie: I have been with my husband for five years. I adore him, but there is one problem. He refuses to learn to drive. For five years, I’ve had to get both of us everywhere. We work in the same part of the city and carpool together.
Six months ago, I bought him a car, hoping it would motivate him to learn to drive. He promised he would, but has found an excuse every time. Now just mentioning the subject makes me the bad guy.
He’s even asked if I want him to leave me, which hurt tremendously. I don’t mind driving both of us, but this situation can’t last forever.
How do I fix this and still preserve my marriage? — Driving for Two
Dear Driving: It sounds as if your husband has a phobia, and he has to recognize the problem before he can fix it. Approach him gently, saying that you understand he has anxiety issues, and suggest he contact the Anxiety Disorders Association of American (adaa.org) and then sign up for a drivers’ education class. But if he is unwilling to budge, we hope you will continue to carpool because we don’t think this is worth ending an otherwise loving marriage.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Following in his Footsteps,” whose husband always walks ahead of her. Prior to the Second World War, in some cultures, the man always walked ahead of his lady.
That changed during the war. I think the lady walking behind should thank her kind and loving husband that he walks ahead to check for land mines. — G.R.
Dear G.R.: Golly, we feel safer already.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.