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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I’ve read your column for years, and now I want your advice. I am a freshman in college and a couple of months ago I was dumped by my first boyfriend. We weren’t together very long, but I am still hung up over him.

Winter break has ended and I’ll have to see him; I don’t know how I am supposed to feel. How do I get over him?

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A. It occurs to me that I have been writing this column for more than half of your life. And I’ve lived the whole “how to get over him” question for far longer.

How are you supposed to feel? Exactly the way you do feel. However, how you act can have an impact on how you feel, and to some extent, you can consciously “act” your way out of this.

When I was your age and going through this I was so freaked (and geeked) out, I literally fell over from nerves in front of a former object of my affection. Please — do not do this. But forgive yourself if you do.

Model your own behavior on the coolest person you can think of and act like that person. Avoid your ex but prepare yourself for those times when you’ll run into him. Do not fall over. Stand tall. Act cool. Stuff down the drama and act neutral. Self-medicate only with the warmth of your friendships and Nora Ephron movies. Plunge into your schoolwork and extracurriculars. Do not drink. Erase his number from your phone.

By the time the lilacs are in bloom you will feel better.

Q. I recently graduated from college, moved back home, and realized there aren’t any available jobs in my field of study. I have no job experience, no car (or license), and my student loan bills are starting to pile up.

I’ve been struggling to find a job for months. However, no one seems to be willing to hire me because of my lack of work experience. I don’t want to be a burden on my family. Any advice?

A. Volunteer for an organization whose goals you share. Take any paying gigs, including baby-sitting, plant-watering, cleaning houses, or shoveling snow. Work on getting a driver’s license (this skill is very important).

Everybody has a first job — eventually. Any work experience (paid or volunteer) will help your pitch, keep you busy, and bring in some dough while you continue to pursue your first professional opportunity.

Q. You get many letters asking if someone should wait to see if a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend still wants to be with them or wondering why they haven’t heard back from the guy/girl they went out with last week.

I want to share some advice that I got from my mother when I was 15 years old. I asked her why my “boyfriend” wasn’t returning my calls and why he avoided me at school. She said: “Ask yourself that question, dear. Why would you avoid someone or not return his calls?”

I said “because I don’t want to talk to them or see them.” She then gave me the most important advice of my life. “Actions speak louder than words. People can ‘say’ whatever they like, but it’s their actions that show their true feelings.” In this day of texting, e-mail, tweeting, and Facebook, we are bombarded with people’s words. Words are just words — people’s actions are what really matter.

A. Your mother was one smart cookie. Thank you for sharing her tried (and true) wisdom.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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