Living Columns & Blogs

Advice for navigating life’s transitions

Dear Emily: My cousin was just released from prison after 20-plus years. He was sentenced at 18 years old, never expected to be released, and compares his current experience to landing on a new planet so he is living life to the fullest, slowly. It’s fascinating and inspiring.

When talking to him about my work, he had no idea what podcasts were so I thought it would be great to introduce him to some. When I asked him what his interests were he said “I’m still figuring that out. I’m just rolling along and experiencing things.”

You may think this a weird question since you don’t know him, but I thought you might still offer some great suggestions, either your favorites or on learning about our lives today. What would you recommend to him?

Dear Cousin: I would recommend your cousin to start with updating himself with what’s going on in the world. The good, the bad, the ugly. Encourage him to watch the news and be up to date on the current events. This will not only allow him to be educated but it will allow him to find his flow again. A great deal has changed over the last 20 years and I cannot image the culture shock that he is experiencing. This is no small task.

Allow his transition to the world educate you as you educate him. Talk with him. Have in depth conversations about the life he once lived and his life now as he leans into this new journey. Conversation is the best learning tool. Help your cousin make efforts to learn about himself and the man that he is all over again by creating opportunities for him to find his passion or by connecting him to those that might help him get there.

Educate him on what you are up to. It’s OK that he doesn’t know what podcasts are, heck, most of us didn’t until the last four years.

Something that might be beneficial is to sit down with him and write out his goals and a plan. From big picture goals to small everyday tasks, it’s good to get the ball rolling with a few positive ideas in mind.

Keep it positive and help be an influential person in this transitional part of your loved one’s life.

Dear Emily: I am a few years out of Penn State and have good job but I do not like it. I just got a job offer in St. Louis but have a boyfriend I have been dating for over a year here in State College. He has a good job. We haven’t talked much about it. I feel like it is a no-win situation. Any suggestions?

Dear Loved One: I think the biggest problem and first step is communication. It’s time to hike up your boots and have a major conversation. With a life event such as this, you have to talk about your options and your feelings. If you’ve been dating for a year, you likely are serious, so openly share where you stand and what you want out of your relationship.

If you want my honest answer, you are young and right now is the time to pursue your career. Every relationship is different but there is no better time than the present to go after what you want and to focus on what makes you happy. We have our whole lives to live and love with someone else. The right person will support you and stand behind you in said major changes.

There are plenty of wins to this situation. A new job. Opportunities for change. A new city. Bonding in your relationship. Yet, of course, it’s going to be tough situations such as this could create friction or even end a relationship.

I think right now you need to think about what you want out of this relationship and your career. Ask your boyfriend the same questions that you is ask yourself. Remember, that this opportunity is not going to break you or make you and that there will be other chances for you to evolve professionally, it’s up to you to make them happen.

Emily Chertow is a Penn State graduate living in New York City who grew up in State College. Questions for her column can be sent to Information on who is asking them will be kept confidential.