DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m from a pretty rough neighborhood in Detroit. I’m a part of a mentee program that accepts troubled youth and helps them get into a college of their choice. Since the beginning of high school, I’ve watched many of my fellow mentees fall victim to gun violence, and it’s taking a toll on me. I’m starting to feel like there’s nothing I can do to escape this cycle even though I’ve gotten into a good college. A classmate from my college was shot and killed not too long ago. How do you suggest I avoid falling victim to the same violence? I think I’m one of those people trouble seems to follow. — Mentee
DEAR MENTEE: First, I want to acknowledge your pain and fear. They are real and warranted, given what you have described about your peers. You have every reason to be concerned about your fate.
At the same time, you cannot allow the perils of the streets to snuff out the potential before you. Start by adjusting your mindset. Focus your attention on what you want for your life. Write it down and get crystal clear on where you are headed. Now think about what it will take to get there. Talk to an adviser from your mentorship program to help you outline a roadmap to success.
Look around for like-minded people who share your interests, and cultivate relationships with them. Do your best to stay out of the streets and away from the people, places and things that may have gotten you into trouble in the past. If that means not going home for a while, follow your gut. You may need to build a new life in a new place with new people. While danger is not limited to your neighborhood in Detroit, it may be that time away for now may give you the space to redefine your life, your values and the company you keep.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited on a trip but excluded from most activities. I think I was just invited so the hotel would be cheaper. I confronted the group that invited me, and they completely denied it. They tried to tell me that the only reason I wasn’t invited to do things was because they “didn’t think I seemed interested.” I’m hurt and irritated, and at this point, I want my money back. I know there isn’t much that I can do because the trip has come and gone, but I feel wronged, and I can’t really let it go. Is there anything I can do at this point? — Dragged Along
DEAR DRAGGED ALONG: Who organized this trip? Do some digging to figure out who to even ask for a refund. If it is a business that sets up tours, you are in luck. You can approach the owner of the business, lodge your complaints and request a refund. If you do not receive one, you can threaten to post negative comments on Yelp, their website and other social media channels. Make it clear that you do not appreciate the way that you were treated, and if they do not give you your money back, you will let as many people as possible know about their bad business practices.