I cheated on my wife while sleepwalking. What do I do now?
When I was in college five years ago, I performed poorly due to lack of a serious work ethic and personal problems. I had floated through high school and somehow graduated with honors, and I expected college to be easy as well. It was not. I was also trying to recover from years of traumatic family problems and abuse, and I used college to get away from it. I was put on academic probation and, to keep from getting kicked out and having to go back home, I wrote letters more than once lying about sick family members to get another chance. It worked, and I went on to scrape by and complete my degree without anymore lying letters. Some instructors understood that I was struggling to stay afloat in life in general and granted me pardons on assignments and deadlines. Now I feel I don't really deserve the degree. I've since become a Christian and endeavor to live an honest, hardworking life, and my academic lies plague me. I want to make this right but don't know what to do.
You're doing it. You're repaying people's faith in you, their willingness to stick with you and even sometimes cut you some slack, by overcoming your difficult start and becoming a productive person. It's always wonderful to hear stories of resilience and perseverance. Stop feeling you don't deserve your degree and continue to show that you do by keeping up your accomplishments. And either now or someday, you can help other young people from circumstances like yours by contributing to a scholarship fund at your alma mater.
I have a female co-worker who is constantly buying me small gifts. I am quite sure she has no ulterior motive for this, as she does things for other people as well. However, I cannot financially reciprocate and have told her that while I appreciate it, I would rather see the money spent, no matter how small the amount, go to a children's or animal charity instead. She still continues to buy me items that I usually just consider more junk to deal with, although she tries hard to buy things I might like. Should I refuse them or keep telling her I want the money to go to a worthwhile cause instead?
—Not a Re-gifter
The point is not that there is some account of hers designated for you, and you would like to redirect her giving. The point is that you have a professional relationship, so it's inappropriate for her to give you a stream of gifts. Explain that you appreciate her generosity, but the gifts are making you uncomfortable, and she needs to stop. If she continues, hand each gift back to her and say, "Tina, again, I appreciate the thought, but I can't exchange gifts with you, so I can't accept this."
Photograph of Prudie by Teresa Castracane.