Friendship is not defined by gender

Friendship is not defined by gender


Dear Madam,

Our 16-year-old son is tech-savvy and has been using online resources to better his knowledge. But his screen time has increased considerably these days, and sometimes he sits for three to four hours at a stretch in front of the computer. Do we have to control this? If so, how?



Dear Parents,

The only and best way to influence adolescents is to be able to have honest and open communications with them. Share your concerns with him, but allow him a non-judgemental space to express himself. Understand what need the screen time is serving him. Share your worries and jointly arrive at an agreement and ask him if he needs your assistance in implementing it. While there is a lot that can be learnt online, there is also the possibility of a lot of distraction and mind-numbing binge watching of shows. So, understand what he is doing online and recognise that not all of it is bad. Arrive at limits that may be acceptable to you and him, and agree on how these are to be enforced.


Dear Madam,

I am a postgraduate student. I have good friends and recently, I have started liking a person. We discuss various issues, share feelings and are comfortable with each other. Is it okay to be close to a male friend? I don’t have any romantic feelings towards him. Will having a male friend lead to problems later in life? Please note that this friendship has not affected my studies.



Dear Rachana,

What is the problem that you are anticipating later in life? Problems are only as big as you make them out to be.

Yes, you can be friends with a person of the opposite sex. Friendship is not defined by gender. And you can be friends and not have romantic feelings, but you can also be friends and have romantic feelings. There is nothing wrong with either scenario because there is nothing wrong with having romantic feelings towards someone.

I get the sense that maybe you are thinking it is not okay to have romantic feelings and therefore are confused now that you are friends with this person. I think you are trying to justify it by saying that there are no romantic feelings involved. My response to you is that even if there are romantic feelings involved, it is not a problem, or something wrong. It is a natural part of life. Give yourself the permission to cherish the friendship for what it means to you in the present.


Dear Madam,

I am a college student and have many friends. While I listen to them, I hardly share my emotions or sentiments with them. I feel that this is because I don’t trust anyone completely. How do I overcome this barrier?



Dear Suma,

It is important that you have been able to identify this barrier for yourself. I think it will be really helpful to you if you are able to move past it. The best way to do this would be to seek the help of a counsellor who will help you understand how you get to this point of distrusting people, and then help you move past it. Please reach out to a counsellor either face to face or over the telephone and work through these issues. But a word of caution, counselling is a once a week process, and allow yourself at least 6-8 weeks to go through the whole process and bring it to its logical conclusion.


Dear Madam,

I am an engineering student. I take much time to take a decision, even for aspects like buying a shoe. This has affected me considerably. Also, I am too conscious of what I speak and write because I think that all these aspects reflect my personality. And now I am contemplating if my decision to take up engineering course was a wise one. I hear that there are good job opportunities in fields like law and commerce. These confusions are affecting my life. How can I lead a happy life without having to bother about each
and everything? 



Dear Akash,

Remember that there are no perfect decisions, and no perfect people. Could it be that in an attempt to only make the best decision, or best choice, you spend an enormous amount of time making the decision? Ask yourself what is the worst possible thing that can happen if you make a decision that is not perfect. Often there are several equally good choices and it really does not matter what you pick because we think there must be one perfect choice that exists, only we are not able to find it.

If we can accept that there are many equally good choices out there in the world, and we can make whichever choice we pick work for us, we will find life less stressful.

While you are thinking that engineering is not the perfect choice, and there may be other perfect choices that have presented themselves to you, remember that you can make any choice you make work for you. Your success in life will not come from making a perfect choice, but from making the most of the choice that you make. You should strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be with all your strengths and weaknesses. You don’t need to be a ‘perfect’ person. Allow yourself some imperfections, and allow yourselves some wrong choices, if that is what they turn out to be.


Dear Madam,
Though I have got good marks in Plus 2, my CET and other entrance exam rankings are not encouraging. Many of my friends have scored well and have joined good colleges. I am finding it difficult to move freely with them like I used to before the results. I feel inferior when someone asks about marks and feel like running away. I have lost interest in pursuing any course as I am afraid I may not get into a good college or course. My anxiety is affecting my equations with family and well-meaning friends too. How can I cope with the situation?


Dear Simran,
I think it will be very beneficial for you to reach out to a counsellor who can help you understand your struggle a little better. While it is easy to compare oneself with others, and their performance, one must only benchmark oneself with oneself – being the best version of themselves. Marks are only an objective external assessment of people’s worth — the real test is one’s own internal assessment of oneself.
Don’t ever give up on your assessment of yourself, because you are much more than a collection of marks. You are much more worthy and capable than your marks may be making you out to be. Don’t let your marks define you. There is so much more to you than your marks – provided you are willing to look.