Sarah asks: Since I started college I’ve drifted away from my number one supporter – my high school counselor. She supported me throughout high school when I had issues at home with my mom, and she was one of my main supporters when I ran for two pageants. I feel so ungrateful for not keeping her up-to-date with what is going on in college or even calling her to talk about my problems. I remember her telling me don’t take forever to call and talk to her because she’ll get mad – and I did the complete opposite by not calling her at all. I feel so bad. I really want to talk to her but I feel as though she wouldn’t want to talk to me. I need her support right now and I need her to guide me with what I am dealing with in college. How can I gain back that bond with her?
Hi Sarah –
What a great question this is. I have an answer for you, but first I want to tell you a joke that was very popular a few years ago. The question was how to tell if your marriage is better than your relationship with your dog. The answer was to lock your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car for a few hours, and when you open it, see which one’s happy to see you.
Of course, the dog will be overjoyed. Why? Because he’s not thinking about how awful you were to lock him in there, he’s just so happy to get out and see his best friend. While your wife, who has a bigger brain, is only thinking about what a jerk you were to lock her in there.
Now I’m not suggesting that your counselor has the same size brain I do, but there is a certain similarity here.
It’s all about Expectations.
Sarah, the awful truth is that teenagers are notoriously as air-headed as us dogs. Teens have so much going on inside them, and so much they care about in the world around them, that they’re well-known for always losing things, forgetting to call, and getting obsessed with things the rest of the world doesn’t consider important. In fact, if you see a teenager who really seems to have everything in their life organized and together, including handling all their relationships well, I’d say to start worrying about them; something’s definitely wrong!
And here’s the deal, Sarah – your counselor knows this. She has been working with teens for years, and knows exactly what you all go through. She knows how huge the transition to leaving home and college is. And when she insisted that you stay in touch, she added that bit about “or else I’ll get mad” because she really likes you, and wants to make sure that you don’t drop away completely.
So Sarah, I can just about guarantee that when you contact her, she’ll react like the dog, and not the wife! She’s been busy too, in her own life. And she’s known all along that it’s possible she might never hear from you again, even though you guys had this great relationship. So when she hears your voice, it’ll be like me when that trunk opens – life is great, I’m loved, the world is a beautiful thing!
Now, because you two were such good friends, she might jokingly give you some trouble about having dropped off for a while. But her joy at hearing from you will be way too huge for that to last. Instead she’s going to want to know everything about what’s happened with you – how you’re liking (or not) college, any new friends, any romances… this will be the best conversation she gets all week!
So my advice is call as soon as you can. Apologize for your pulling away, and tell her you’ve missed her and how important she is to you… and everything should be fine.
And by the way, welcome to your one-step-closer-to-adulthood moment! Believe it or not, this higher awareness of time and promises will now become a regular part of you. It’ll make things a lot easier too – you probably won’t lose your phone as often!