Harriette Cole: Everyone thinks I’m a big success but I haven’t told the whole truth

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am embarrassed to say that I suffer from almost all of the chronic health problems that commonly befall Black people in this country. I feel like such a failure in this regard.

Outside of my health, I am killing it at work and have a good life. I checked off all the boxes toward success regarding education and building a career and family, but the health part sucks.

I don’t want to tell anybody because it’s embarrassing. I don’t want to be a statistic — especially after so much hard work. I admit, though, that I have not prioritized exercise or healthy eating the way I should have. I was grinding, trying to make a career for myself.

What can I do now without drawing attention to my problems?

Health Hurdle

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DEAR HEALTH HURDLE:
Just like you mapped out your career path, you now need to map out a health journey.

You can do this with your doctors. They have to keep your health confidential. Ask for their support. Enlist a dietician and a fitness coach, as well. Then make a plan of action with incremental checkpoints and goals that will help you monitor your progress.

Rather than being embarrassed, be charged up to get healthier. When you are ready, invite your closest family members and friends to support you. That will make it easier for you to reach your goals.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am the friend who is always doling out advice. My friends call me at all times of the day and night to have me weigh in on their issues.

That’s fine — for the most part. What’s tough is when I need to bend someone’s ear but nobody is available. This has happened to me a few times.

Now I realize that these people whom I consider to be my closest friends are selfish. They really aren’t thinking about me and my best interests, even though I spend most of my time worrying about them.

At first, I was mad at all of them, but as I thought about it, I realized it’s my fault. I’m the one at the ready to solve their problems.

How can I change this and have somebody who wants to have my back?

What About Me?

DEAR WHAT ABOUT ME: Step back for a moment and think about your friends. Which ones would you want advice from? Of course you would appreciate anyone being a good listener — who does listen? But also, is there anyone who gives good advice? If not, consider editing your friend group to include someone who is not accustomed to having you play the role of therapist and who would be happy to be in a more reciprocal relationship.

Also, evaluate how you interact with your current friend group. Could you behave any differently? Offer less advice? Be more part of the group instead of the group’s problem solver?

Your friends may not think you want or need their input. You may need to sit down with them and tell them what you need. You may be surprised to learn that they didn’t realize it at all.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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