Since you don’t have the kind of exasperated but flush parents who underwrite the adventures of the girls in Girls, I strongly advise you not to take off for one of the most expensive cities in the world with no money and no prospects. Finding yourself sharing a cockroach-ridden studio while you look for a job that won’t even cover your living expenses will have you thinking that life may not be short enough. But that doesn’t mean your destiny is dreary work. Use your current situation as a springboard to a better one. Zero in on cities that have plenty of young people, a lively art and music scene, and lots of places to get coffee—Austin, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, for some examples. Start using online resources to search for jobs. Contact your college’s career office for prospects and for connections to alumni in target cities who work in your field of interest. You are too young to resign yourself to being a frustrated drudge. Adventures await, but consider taking your show on the road before making a debut on one of the world’s biggest stages.
A few weeks ago I ran a letter from a middle-aged adopted woman who, in search of her biological family and medical history, had located her birth mother. The birth mother was distraught to get a phone call from her daughter and wanted no further contact. The letter writer said she was planning to forge ahead and reach out to her half-siblings. She recently wrote back with this update:
One reason for my quest to find my birth mother was because I have a very difficult relationship with my adoptive mother. She herself was abused as a child and was unable to emotionally connect with me. Another reason is that my children and I both have some medical issues for which I was seeking clarity. I can see why readers concluded I was irresponsibly badgering my birth mother. But I didn’t know whether my mother wanted to be found. I didn’t even know if she had received my letters; the only way to find out was to ask. During our one phone call I admitted I was disappointed that she didn't want to know me, but I acknowledged it was her right. I asked if she would be willing to share any information about medical history, but she kept repeating that I had no right to ask her these questions. I told her that I was sorry to have caused her so much pain, but that I would be very grateful if she would consider sharing information at some point in the future. She told me I was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. I thanked her for speaking with me and hung up.
That was over a year ago. My birth mother seemed unstable when we spoke, and I didn't want to be the cause of her complete unraveling. So I've spent the last year creating fantasies about circumstances that would explain her fearful response to me. This is what adoptees do. We come up with all kinds of ridiculous scenarios to rationalize what is unknown. More recently, I began to resent that after all these years she still views me with shame and horror. What I finally came to realize was that the burden of shame was not mine to carry. I can't control what she does, I can only control what I do. Shortly after contacting you, I wrote two letters. In the first, I told my birth mother that I respected her choice to not interact with me and said she would not hear from me again. In the second letter, I wrote to the only other person who knew of my existence: my biological uncle. To my surprise, he immediately telephoned. He was cordial and straightforward. He explained that he is estranged from my mother but he felt a responsibility to share medical history along with what he knew about the circumstances of my birth. He offered to send some photos and to write a family history. In 20 minutes, he replaced a lifetime of fantasy with facts, most of them unsavory and quite sad. But there is simply a calmness in knowing, which I'm not sure nonadoptees can understand. Based on the conversation with my uncle, I have no plans to contact my half-brothers who are both estranged from my mother. However, I still plan to keep looking for my biological father.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“Compassion Without Passion: My husband’s brain injury ended our romance. Should I take a lover?” Posted Jan. 26, 2012.
“Maid of Dishonor: Should I skip a wedding because my girlfriend hooked up with three of the groomsmen?” Posted Jan. 19, 2012.
“Schoolgirl Fantasy: My boyfriend wants me to call him "Daddy" during sex. Gross!” Posted Jan. 12, 2012.
“Love Is in the Air: Is breaking wind in front of your boyfriend worth breaking up over?” Posted Jan. 5, 2012.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Workplace Rivalry: During a live chat, Dear Prudence advises a worker whose colleague impersonated her to sabotage a rival job candidate.” Posted Feb. 6, 2012.
“One-Night Stand or Rape?: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose friend revised the story of a drunken encounter with a stranger.” Posted Jan. 30, 2012.
“Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?: In a live chat, Dear Prudence offers advice on whether an unfaithful spouse can be an honest businessman.” Posted Jan. 23, 2012.
“Pregnant Pause: In a live chat, Dear Prudence advises an expecting woman who isn’t sure she wants to move closer to her baby’s father.” Posted Jan. 17, 2012.