Hi there! I a college/career related question for you. I'm a junior in high school, and I am thinking about majoring in computer science... for some unknown reason. I've done some soul searching and I can't find any reason why I feel like I could spend the rest of my life working in computer science-related fields. I don't have that much experience with the skill, either. My question is, do I risk going into college with a major in mind off of a wild hunch? I feel so uncertain about it, and yet

Go forth and volunteer, young bear.

For reals though, volunteering the best way to decide if you like something enough to do it as a job. I volunteered in my school’s tech department during my freshman year of high school and I HATED IT. But that’s me. Then, during my junior and senior year, I volunteered in the library, fell in love, and now I’m on track to get my Master’s in library science and be a professional librarian. Ask around at school. Tech departments are usually looking for some volunteers to do basic shit like show teachers how to open Word or ghost hard drives, the simple, mindless tasks that the people in charge don’t want to do. But by doing the shit jobs, you get a good idea of what it’s like to work in a computer based field. You’ll probably get taught some neat computer things as well.

And if you’re still not sure come college time, go to a university with lots of departments, and take whatever interests you. You might start of as a computer science major and end up teaching English in a developing country or as a studio arts major. YOU NEVER KNOW.

-Professor Bearington

This may seem to be an odd question, but how do I become smarter? I read a lot and try to read about various topics, and I try to keep informed (but become too easily frustrated about the state of things, sometimes), and I listen openly to opinions which differ from mine, to try and gain perspective. I do those things because I think they make me more aware...but I feel really stupid compared to everyone else. I feel like I'm missing this big secret they all know. Thank you in advance.

The big secret they all know that you don’t is that there will always be someone smarter than you, stronger than you, more well read then you, taller than you. There will always be someone that you look at and think you’re crap because you’re not as good as them. 
And you know what? That’s OK. You don’t need to be the best. You don’t need to be the smartest.

Listen, I know a lot of smart people. People tell me I’m smart. And what I can tell you about smart people is, we’re not really that smart. Some of the smartest people I know are also some of the dumbest. Those you perceive as smart are often pretty close minded, or bad at math, or wear clashing patterns, or can’t fold a shirt to save their lives. Everyone has talents and abilities and things they’re good at and everyone has the things they suck at. The problem comes when people focus on the things they suck at more than they focus on the things they’re good at. Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” (It took me 5 tries to spell genius right. See?)

So keep reading. Reading is good for you. It opens you to a sense of wonder and makes you think about things differently and builds your vocabulary. Stay informed. It’s great to know what’s happening in the world. (But take everything with a grain of salt. There’s no such thing as an unbiased journalist. Everyone is pushing an agenda these days.) Listen to other’s opinions. That’s the best and rarest kind of listener.

But don’t do those things because you hope you’ll get smarter by doing them. Do them because it’s good, and it’s fun, and it helps mold you into a better person. And stop thinking you’re stupid. Someone is looking at you and wishing they could be as smart as you.

-Professor Bearington

I'm currently in school for Animal Science. My personality, however, doesn't "mesh" with the ideal for that particular job environment. I'm very shy and unsure of myself. I don't want to feel like I have to prepare myself emotionally all the time to do something I'm supposed to enjoy. I understand that I have to make sacrifices and learn to be comfortable in certain situations, but I don't want to compromise my personality too strongly. (s it bad, for example, that I'm okay being shy?) Thanks!

It’s totally OK that you’re OK being shy. It’s part of who you are and the fact that you’ve embraced that rules.

I have no idea what an animal scientist does. Is that an animal that is a scientist? Are you a kitten in a lab coat? Can you set up a webcam in your lab so we can watch you doing experiments and then playing with a ball of yarn?

As time goes on, Doctor Kitty, you will become more sure of yourself. When you start your internships (residency? I have no idea what scientists do this is based off Scrubs god forever an English major) you’ll feel really, really lost and confused and shy and unsure of yourself BUT THEN you’ll get in the groove of things and get your science on and people will be all OH DOCTOR KITTY YOU’RE THE BEST INTERN WE’VE HAD YOU’RE SO SMART AND YOUR FUR IS SO SHINY. 

It’s not that you suck at animal scientry now and will magically get awesome at it. I mean, you will get better at it because you’ll be in a learning environment where the point is to learn and get better at it, but that’s not why you’ll feel more confident and comfortable. It’s because you’ll be putting your skills to use and proving to yourself that you are good at what you do. You are smart and wonderful and you look damn adorable in your people-sized protective goggles. 

So while you may be OK with being shy now, you might not be shy in the future or in the work place. Maybe you’ll go home and be the shyest kitty in the world. But at work you’ll be rocking the test tubes, discovering the cure of kitty cancer and getting belly rubs. 

You’ll see, Doctor Kitty. As you go on in school and grow as a person kitty cat, you’ll become more confident and be comfortable doing whatever it is animal scientists do.

-Professor Bearington

I was wondering what advice could you give to someone who has H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E separation anxiety?Honestly I cry sometimes leaving my dog home alone...

OH MAN IS THAT RELATABLE TO ME.

As some of you may know, I am obsessed with my dog to the point of having his picture tattooed on my leg. When I first went off to college, I’d have my mother send my pictures of him almost daily because I couldn’t bear to be away from him. But as I got busier with school, I had less time to miss him. So keeping busy is one thing I can definitely suggest.

Also, think about why you’re so anxious about leaving your dog alone. Are you worried about their safety? Are you sad thinking about them being lonely and bored? Or do you just miss the sucker? Doing things to alleviate those worries can really help. Go through your house and make sure everything is doggy proof. Double check the locks before you leave. Teach him about not letting strangers into the house unless they have pizza. Get your fuzzy friend a shit load of toys so they won’t have TIME to be sad or lonely without you. Have a special toy that they can only play with when you’re away - I suggest a squeaky toy because no one will be home to be irritated by it. Get a nice picture and put it in a locket so whenever you’re lonely for some dog time, you can take a peek.

If your separation anxiety is connected to other people or it really interferes with your life, don’t hesitate to see a professional who can help you get it under control. Maybe you could benefit from medication. Maybe not.

If all else fails, bring your dog with you every where you go. (not really that would be absurd)

-Professor Bearington

Dear Bears, Yesterday was prom and now high school is definitely over. Even though I wasn't that fond of my school and people there, I can't help but feel a huge emptiness. I've always struggled with growing up, but now it feels even worse. I didn't get accepted into any university until now and I feel like I have no future and that I'll never do anything meaningful. I just don't want to live anymore, I don't want to grow old. :(

It’s totally normal to be upset that high school is ending. It was a huge chapter in your life up until now, and it certainly is the end of an era. But you know as well as I do that everything must come to an end. High school ends. It’s just one of those things you have to accept.

As for not getting into university, it’s not the end of the world. Not everyone does get into college. It might seem like the end of the world now, but trust me, it’s not. You’ll be able to apply for the spring semester (or term? Whatever it is you crazy Euros have. Are you European? I have no idea. Whatever, back to the advice) or you can apply next year. It’s going to be fine, trust me.

Let’s get one thing clear, though. Just because you don’t go to college doesn’t mean your life is going to suck. You don’t need a degree to be happy. Some of the happiest people I know never graduate college. Just do what you’re passionate about, and everything will fall into place.

-Professor Bearington

I lost my cat tonight. How can I deal with that? He was a big part of our family. Thanks, bears.

Losing a pet is one of the hardest things in the world. It feels like your best friend is gone, because he is.

It’s OK to mourn your cat. Cry as long as you need. Sit in your room and be sad if you want. It’s OK. Mourn with your parents and siblings. It’s just like mourning the loss of a human family member. Let yourself feel your sadness; don’t shut off and ignore your feelings. 

I can’t tell you when the hurt is going to stop. My dog passed away 7 months ago and it still hurts. For the first week, I honestly thought I wouldn’t be happy again. That little bundle of fur was my best friend in the world. But as time went on, it got easier to accept that I wasn’t going to be coming home from the store to see him lounging outside, or that he wasn’t going to wake me up in the morning by snuffling in my ear. I still get sad when people are talking about their dogs, but I no longer burst into tears. The wound is still raw, but I’ve got a good bandage over it now.

Everyone has a way of dealing with loss, and you just need to find yours. Some people write poetry. Some people bake. Some people volunteer. (I’d stay away from volunteering at an animal shelter for now.) Personally, I got a portrait of my dog tattooed on my leg. That helped me deal with the loss. Find something that takes your mind off of it, so you’re not constantly thinking about your pet.

It’s been kind of a hard year for me, to say the least. But the thing is, I haven’t had anything particularly bad happen to me lately- no family crises, no really horrible experiences, no nothing. However, it’s an entirely different story emotionally. I think I’m depressed, but I’m not really sure. There are periods that last for a couple of weeks or so where I’m completely broken. Any bad feelings I have are elevated, I’m always tired, and I feel hopeless and worthless and completely alone.

During those times, I’m sure I have depression. But then, the feelings slowly improve and within a few days, I’m happy. I’m not exactly on top of the world, but I’m normal and can function without constant sadness. I know it’s not PMS either, because there does not seem to be any triggers except stress, and even that’s a bit of a stretch. I’m thinking that that could be the cause, what with GPA and SAT and college worries. But I just don’t know what is wrong with me.

Go see a doctor, dude. Whether or not it turns out that you’re depressed, you should see a doctor to find out for sure. If it is depression, they can go about getting you the help you need. If it’s not, they’ll help you figure out what to do. Either way, see a therapist and get this sorted.

-Professor Bearington

Dear Bear! A homeless man followed me to my flat today. I chatted to him yesterday and I thought he seemed lonely and sad so I went back today. But although he’s nice, he said some things that scared me. He jokingly asked whether I fancied him & stuff like that,and kept talking about things like marriage, and said he wanted to cuddle me and hold me. He’s 50 and told me he has been on the streets for 20 years. I want to help but I don’t know how. His memory seems bad.

When I said goodbye at my flat, he kept saying he’d miss me over and over. I feel like he needs a friend, but I’m a bit scared to meet him again. I said I’d give him a hug but he wouldn’t let me go :(..when i was with him he kept saying ‘im a bad person but i won’t hurt you’ and he stroked my arms and back a lot. what should I do? I think I just need a comforting word because I’m a bit upset by it all, since I’m shy and I really don’t like talking to people I don’t know.

OK so it’s perfectly fine to make friends with the homeless and want to help them. But it’s also important that you don’t let it interfere with your sense of personal safety, which it seems to be doing. He wouldn’t let go when you hugged, he was stroking your arms and back, and he said he’s a bad person. This doesn’t seem like a safe situation to be putting yourself in. If he’s saying things that scare you, please please try to avoid him. If you can’t, don’t walk by him alone. Bring a friend. If he keeps bothering you and making you feel unsafe, don’t hesitate to report him to the authorities. 

I understand you want to help him, but you shouldn’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

-Professor Bearington

Dear bears, I'm in a bit of a situation. I've been dating this boy for over a year. We both went to college this year and made the decision to stay together. He didn't have very many friends in high school, maybe one good one. Now that he's in college, he has a lot of friends, boys and girls. He's started talking to me less and less because he's busy with his friends. We do text, but the conversation is short. I don't want to break up, but he just doesn't seem to understand. What do I do, bears?

Did you know that 9 out of 10 high school relationships end in a break up? The 1 out of 10 that don’t end in a break up end in a divorce, which is like a break up for grown ups.

This interesting and completely fabricated statistic is not meant to be mean and heartless, but yeah, it sounds like you and your boy are about to take a train to Splitsville.

Who you are in high school is totally different than who you are in college. Even if you’re both freshies at college (or “uni” to those across the pond) and have thus been at college for 3 months. Those are some changing 3 months! You’re meeting new people, learning how to wash your own underwear, discovering what the Freshman Fifteen are, and encountering new situations and ideas. You both are going to be totally different by the time winter break rolls it’s ass around the corner. He probably thinks you’re mad different as well.

So there’s 2 things you can do. Write this down.

1) Talk to ya boo. Tell him, “Hey boo, since we’ve been at college, you’re seeming a bit distance and it’s kinda wigging me out. What’s the deal? Are you still committed to this?” and if he’s like, “Aw shit I didn’t even notice I’ve been distant I’ll try to be better” then you don’t have to break up and you work on your relationship and yay!

2) You say, “Hey boo, since we’ve been at college, you’re seeming a bit distance and it’s kinda wigging me out. What’s the deal? Are you still committed to this?” and if he replies “Yeah I know dude. I mean I’m at college and I’m a grown up who washes his own undies now so…” and he’s not willing to work on your relationship then you have to say “OK so this clearly ain’t gonna work so let’s just end it now before one or both of us gets hurt.”

Notice how those both start with talking to ya boo? That’s because you need to talk to ya boo.

-Professor Bearington

Hello Bears. I've been reading this blog quite a lot and your advice seems to be rather sound, so I thought I might submit my own problem. I hope you don't mind. My problem is that I'm nine and a half stone and im fat. It doesnt sound like I am because of that, but I really am. You cant see my fatness from the outside - I have very skinny arms - but my thighs and tummy and sides are all chubby and fat and it upsets me staring into the mirror. Please help me. Thankyou. Your work is good here.

(Note for our non-UK readers: 1 stone = 14 pounds, so 9 and a half stone = 133 lbs)

First, 9 and half stone isn’t fat. Depending on your height, it’s typically a normal weight. You’ve been trained to think that unless you have washboard abs, stick thin legs, and 2% body fat, you’re fat. That’s not true. It’s just not.

Given that we understand that us chicks are taught that we’re fat because we don’t look like Megan Fox (is she still relevant?), it’s still perfectly normal to not be happy with what you see in the mirror. It’s OK.

Exercise and diet are good because they’re good for you. Not only will you feel better physically, but you’ll feel better mentally. Working out releases hella endorphins, which is what makes your brain happy. Even if working out didn’t change your body at all, you’ll be happier over-all anyway! Go for a walk after dinner. Eat some fruits and vegetables, and switch to whole grain. Pop a mulit-vitamin and you’ll notice the positive effects pretty soon. 

Also, try to love your body. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s really important to accept yourself. Focus on parts of your body and just send it love. Place a hand on your thighs and just send good vibes and love it and recognize it as part of your body and yourself.

-Professor Bearington

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