Student Voice


January 30, 2023



Ask Colleen: Just friends or something more?

September 22, 2016

Question: I’m not sure if I should go to grad school or if I should take some time off from school and work first. I don’t want to feel like I’m behind but it’s also a big financial and time commitment. What do I do? – Indecisive

Dear Indecisive,

This question runs through my mind daily and I am sure the minds of a lot of different students.
Let’s not even stop at students, this is something people ask themselves all the time. What do I do next?

The good thing about this question is that it seems as though you have many options. First off all, congrats on getting your undergrad. That is an accomplishment in itself. It’s funny how 25 years ago obtaining an undergrad degree wasn’t very common. Now, going to college and getting your undergrad is almost expected. Societal norms can often put the pressure on recently graduated students. But what’s normal anyway?

The day before classes started this semester I decided to change my major. I’m in my senior year of college and this whole time have been going to school for education. It was terrifying. I’m not going to lie, I was worried what people would think or even ask. I was so indecisive that I even made a pros and cons list, which honestly just made me even more indecisive. It was as if I was having a debate against myself and I was defending both sides. But I knew I had a decision to make. It didn’t come down to something I wrote on a list, but it came down to how I felt. I had been having second thoughts on becoming a teacher. For me that was enough to make the switch.

You say that you don’t want to feel like you are behind, but who or what are you exactly behind? Remember this is your life and you are only “competing” against yourself. I wouldn’t worry about being behind. If right now in your life it would be too much of a financial and time commitment, then there is nothing wrong with working. But if you feel like grad school would benefit your future career goals, then it might be worth the risk. I don’t think it’s a matter of what the “right” choice is. It’s about what will ultimately make you happy now, the rest will work itself out in time. Jobs will always be available and grad school isn’t going anywhere.

Any time I’m contemplating a decision I usually have my mind made up, but I wait until I get reassurance from someone else. Well I’ll be your reassurance, no matter what you decide that will be the right choice for you.

Question: Dear Colleen,

Can I hang out with a boy who isn't my boyfriend? I have a guy friend who I like to hang out with. However, I have a boyfriend as well! Some people ask me if my boyfriend is okay with it and while I think I'm not crossing any boundaries, other people seem to think I am just by hanging out with him! Please help me out, Colleen!

Sincerely, a boy's friend

A boy’s friend,

Yes, I think you can hang out with a boy who isn’t your boyfriend. A friend's a friend and can simply just be that. Understandably, the unfavorable comments toward this guy friend can change your own perspective of either relationship. Those comments have probably made you question if there was anything more than a friendship with this guy, and it could possibly make you question your own loyalty towards your boyfriend. Don’t let their criticisms impact your mindset towards either relationship. Playing into other people’s perceptions just leads to useless questioning and makes things more complicated than they need to be.

The bottom line is that the people who are questioning your relationships really have no place in saying anything at all. Your relationship with your boyfriend is between the two of you, not anyone else. That goes for any relationship, really. Don’t you think it would be hard to make judgments on a relationship you are not a part of? I sure think so. How do they know what boundaries are set in your relationship with your boyfriend? They don’t. Their comments may come from a place of concern, but either way you don’t need to justify your actions to them.

Have you talked to your boyfriend about this friend? Does he seem to mind that the two of you hang out together? Does he think boundaries are being crossed? Either way, as long as you and your boyfriend can discuss openly and honestly about situations like this, then I see no problem. And if you guys haven’t talked about this, maybe bring it up if it’s still bothering you.

A friend can just be a friend. Honestly, these thoughts probably wouldn’t have come to mind if someone else didn’t bring them up first. So don’t get too worried about it. Remember you are in the relationship, not anyone else.

Colleen Brown is a student at UW-River Falls.