Q. My gram told me last year when I said I hated college to give it a try a little while longer. I did. I still hate it. College just isn’t for me. I like to fix cars. I don’t see why I can’t be an auto mechanic. I’ve checked out trade schools and it’s cheaper. I can see myself doing this for a living. Why won’t my gram just let me be me? I get that she wants me to have a college degree. I’d be the first one in the family to have one. It’s just not worth the debt and the hassle. How can I tell her without breaking her heart? My gram is everything to me.

19-year-old

Mary Jo’s Response: Your relationship with your gram sounds wonderful. It’s normal for her to want the best for you.

You’ve done what your gram asked. You gave college a solid try and you’re still unhappy. Working as an auto mechanic is a respected trade with a steady income. Be proud of who you are.

When I taught in Europe, I discovered there were university track and trade track high schools. Young people need to explore what gives them joy. Finding your path should be supported.

I think you should talk with your gram as you spoke with me. Show her this column to start the conversation if that helps. She loves you. I don’t think your desire to be yourself will break her heart.

You are a person of worth. Good luck!

Q. I want to go to vo-tech. I’m not interested in other classes at school. I want to be a cosmetologist. I know I’d be good at that. What do I do to make that happen? Is it OK to want to do hair? My dad says it’s a “do-nothing” profession that just makes women feel pretty.

15-year-old

Mary Jo’s Response: Of course it is OK to want to do hair!

With respect to your dad, I disagree. There is honor in offering a service to other people. My stylist is a wonderful part of my life. When I lost my hair because of chemotherapy, she was the person who helped me style it as it fell out. She helped me select a wig. When my hair returned, it was different – more coarse and curlier! Once again, my hairdresser offered support.

You have selected an honorable profession. You are worthy and so is your choice. Talk with your guidance counselor at school and find out how you can attend vo-tech. Find someone in your family to support you. Explain to your dad this is what makes you happy. Good luck.

Peer Educator Response: No one knows what is best for someone more than the person themselves. Both these questions deal with finding what gives a person joy. There’s no shame in attending vo-tech or deciding college isn’t right. Do you.

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email podmj@healthyteens.com.

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