DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old housewife with a loving husband, a caring mother and equally supportive in-laws. I’m writing because I feel useless. I don’t even have a hobby I’m good at. Although I like to play music, draw and play with cats, I don’t think I’m good at any of them, despite others telling me otherwise.
My friends and family are better off than I am. My friend is participating in a skating competition, my brother is working toward becoming an electrician, and my husband’s first cousin is an illustrator whose book recently got published. Because of this, I have developed low self-esteem and argue with those around me.
I can’t afford college because I have no job. I tried applying for a few only to be turned down. Abby, I haven’t accomplished anything special. All I want is to be good at something, but I’m afraid it will blow up in my face. I can’t accept criticism.
I’m at a loss about what to do. I’m ready to give up on everything. Why should I keep trying when I know I will get the same bad results? — TALENTLESS IN OHIO
DEAR TALENTLESS: There are many kinds of success beyond the monetary or winning prizes. As an unemployed housewife with time on your hands, why not put some of it to use by volunteering in your community?
Many places would be glad to have you. The library, schools, senior centers, veterinarian’s offices or animal rescues would welcome someone. Please try it. If you do, you may find you have talents you’re unaware of. An added benefit will be that the more you do, the higher your level of self-esteem will become.
DEAR ABBY: My 12-year-old grandson, “Adam,” doesn’t talk to me. He converses with other adults, but when I walk into a room and say hi, he pretends he doesn’t hear me. He does not answer questions that I ask and will sit on the floor rather than at the other end of a large sofa where I am.
He lives pretty far away, so I take small gifts when I visit every two to three months. He does come over with a smile when I am handing them out, but he never comments or says thank you. His younger brother and I get along great, so I do not pressure Adam. When I leave, I give him a quick hug and tell him I love him. The phone is useless.
He’s obviously miserable when my daughter insists he speak with me. I send a short text once a month or so so he knows I care. I don’t feel comfortable mentioning this to his parents, as his dad is pretty hard on him. Any suggestions? — SAD GRAMMY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR SAD GRAMMY: Yes. Adam’s behavior is rude and disrespectful, but it’s perhaps not his fault. I am surprised his parents haven’t noticed this. Because you feel his father might be heavy-handed, mention it to his mother and ask her to find out what the problem is with Adam because, clearly, there is one.
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.