Dear Readers: I’ve stepped away from the Ask Amy column for two weeks to work on a new writing project. I hope you enjoy these edited “best of” columns in my absence. All of these questions and answers were first published 10 years ago. Today’s topic is: Teenagers.
Dear Amy: I have a few white friends who throw around the “N-word.” It makes me uncomfortable when they use it, especially when they use it to describe me (I am white). I don’t condone the use of that word in any form. They say having an “a” instead of an “er” at the end makes it acceptable, but I don’t agree.
How can I ask them to stop?
— Not the N-Word
Dear Not: Yes, this is offensive and unacceptable. Stop it in its tracks. Just say, “Stop this. Now. It’s not funny, it’s not right, and I don’t like it.” If your friends don’t stop, then walk away. Your friends may think you’re extra-sensitive. They may razz you. If so, they’re not really friends. One day you’ll look back and see them as a bunch of obnoxious people you used to know in high school. (September 2009)
Dear Amy: My prom is coming up. I’m an 11th-grade girl and have been looking forward to this special day for a very long time. My friends and I are planning to go as a group, and everyone is really excited.
Last night my parents told me that because of various situations, I probably won’t be able to go. My mother was laid off from her job recently, and my parents are worried about finances. They say the dress, shoes, ticket and limo ride are too expensive. My friends and I were all going to have our hair and nails done, too, and that’s costly.
I’m so upset I don’t know what to do. I’m too embarrassed to tell my friends I won’t be able to go, and I don’t want to tell them my family is in trouble. I read your column, and so do my friends. What can you say to me?
Dear Sad: I’d love to help you find a way to get exactly what you want, or at least come close. Understand that your family is not alone. Many thousands of families are facing similar challenges right now, and some of your friends might be, too. Be honest and talk with them to see if, as a group, you can come up with ways to economize. If you approach this as a group, you can prop each other up. (You could get together on prom day to do each other’s hair and nails, for instance, and the limo is an empty expense.)
See if you can pick up some jobs or chores to make money to put toward a dress and your ticket.
My own choice when I’m looking for “formal wear” is to scour consignment shops or the Goodwill or Salvation Army store for previously owned vintage dresses. You’d be surprised what bargains you can find, and vintage is cool right now. There are also “gown exchanges” available in some locations. (For my own high school prom, I wore my older sister’s homemade hand-me-down dress and still managed to have a good time. You can, too, and I hope you will.) (April 2009)
Dear Amy: I am a freshman in high school. I am a smart, friendly, nice girl, and until recently, had high self-esteem. Recently, a lot of my friends have been flaunting boyfriends, and I am very jealous. No boy has told me he likes me. I think I am very attractive, and I try to be nice to everyone. What am I doing wrong, and why has no one liked me yet? How can I raise my self-esteem?
Dear Anonymous: People are ready for relationships at different ages, and everyone has a unique way of trying to get what he or she wants. You aren’t doing anything wrong. If you want to go to a dance with someone, then ask him to go in a group with friends. Commit yourself to activities that make you feel good; music, drama, art and sports all present opportunities for you to get to know other fantastic teens, like you. (December 2009)
Dear Readers: Are you curious about my background and life outside of the confines of this space? Read my two memoirs: “The Mighty Queens of Freeville” and “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things,” available wherever books are sold or borrowed.