To whom it may concern

Normally advice columns are written by life-weathered mystics with decades of accumulated wisdom. As someone who just recently found out what a mortgage is and who has never once considered separating laundry by color, I cannot claim to be any of those things. However, mediocre advice can still be useful if it comes from an outside perspective; and who knows, maybe someone out there is looking for the same advice as you and you’ll be helping them by asking!

Will Nelson, Senior Columnist

My close friend doesn’t respect my recently changed pronouns and I don’t know how to ask them again to please use the right ones. They don’t seem to care that it hurts me a lot even though I’ve explained it to them over and over. They are very important to me and I don’t want to lose their friendship.

To whom it may concern,

Being repeatedly hurt by someone close to you in that way sounds incredibly difficult, and I’m sorry that you’ve been having to go through this. First off, I have to acknowledge that, as someone who’s never undergone a pronoun change, I can’t fully empathize with the nuances and challenges of your situation.

My initial thought would be to have a one-on-one conversation with your friend in which you explain to them why your pronouns are important to you and formally ask them to change their behavior. However, you mentioned that you’ve explained why using the incorrect pronouns hurts you to them “over and over,” and I’d imagine that most of those interactions had elements of that conversation in them. 

Not all peer pressure is bad. Consider asking your other friends who do respect your pronouns to correct this friend if they don’t already, and maybe even ask them to speak to them about it. Though your friend really should’ve listened to your requests in the first place, hearing it from other people could be the extra push they need.

If nothing seems to be working, it unfortunately comes down to one question: how important is this friendship to you? Is this person important enough in your life to tolerate repeated disregard for an integral part of your identity? Their refusal to change their behavior might not be changed, and you may have to make the decision as to whether or not it’s worth continuing the friendship. 

If it comes down to that, the only person who can make that call is you.

Thank you for your response, and may the sun shine warm upon your face.

Kind regards,


My mom won’t stop calling me all the time even when I’m in class because she’s worrying about me since I’m on campus now. How do I tell her to leave me alone but nicely?

To whom it may concern,

A dilemma as old as time! Or at least as old as the development of higher education. 

To the core, this is a question of boundaries. Sometimes, just whipping out that word can be enough to jolt a parent out of their delusions of your incapacity to fend for yourself, but outlining what those boundaries actually are is a healthy move. I would recommend setting up a time to talk with your mom. Tell her you’d like to establish some boundaries and that her calling so frequently is making you feel uncomfortable. Explain that, as hard as it is to accept, you’re old enough to fend for yourself. She might hem and haw a little, but it’s likely she’ll understand.

It’s important to remember that your mom’s concern is almost certainly coming from a place of love. Feeling frustrated with her is normal, but becoming angry with her will only lead to mutual resentment. Those worried phone calls in class are just a result of decades of care. 

Plenty of parents I know have had trouble releasing control over their child as they enter college. Just as it’s a difficult transition for many of us– moving away from home and the support it provides– it’s also a difficult time for them. 

Set your boundaries and enforce them, but try to be patient with your mom. Things have changed for you both.

Thank you for your response, and may your green tea never oversteep.

Kind regards,


I have been feeling down as the weather gets worse and I think a new hobby will help to cheer me up. Do you have any suggestions? What is your favorite thing to do when you’re feeling down?

To whom it may concern,

There are two hobbies that I think almost anyone can benefit from: walking and writing. 

I’m a huge proponent of going for a nice walk. No music, no audiobooks, no particular destination, just walking– can’t recommend it highly enough. Take some time out of your schedule to reflect on things going on in your life. What’s important to you? What have you been having a difficult time with? What are some things you’re thankful for?

There are some lovely parks nearby– Horton, Newell, Como if you’re feeling ambitious– where you can appreciate the beauty of the natural world, regardless of the season, and reconnect with your sense of wonder. 

Nothing puts me in a better mood like a good walk.

Writing, in a similar vein, offers the opportunity for self-reflection while being an enjoyable pastime. Unfortunately, writing for school puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths, but writing recreationally can be life changing. Don’t feel pressured to write about anything in particular– let yourself explore. It can help you process, access your creative mind, and remember important events. Writing is a fantastic hobby, and it certainly helps me when I’m in a bad place.

Thank you for your response, and may you always get your favorite flavor from gumball machines.

Kind regards,


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