Ask Manal: Need advice? Ask the life coach
It sounds like you have taken her advice into consideration but she remains critical of your cooking. You don’t necessarily need to counter her, as that may negatively affect your relationship with her. But you can let her know how you feel about the situation, if you think she would be open to hearing it. Explain that you are trying your best to cook food to her liking and her approval is important to you, but you are starting to feel inadequate. Remember that you are trying your best, so this may not be personal at all. It may be that she just wants to show love to her family in the one way she knows – as we know food is culturally a way of showing love and caring. Focus on the qualities that make you say she is a ‘good lady’ and enjoy the positive aspects of her company.
It’s great that you have found something you’re passionate about. You should note, however, that your parents are probably concerned that it might not work out for you and they likely feel that continuing higher studies is a safer option. International statistics show that college graduates earn more each year, and the unemployment rate for those without a college degree is much higher than those with a degree. Therefore, in order to make them understand your point of view, you should show them you have a clear plan as to how to establish a stable, secure career in singing.
If you’re not able to do that, consider whether you can compromise by continuing your education in a field related to or complementary to singing. This would give you more skills while still being able to pursue singing, in addition to giving your parents some reassurance.
When it comes to relationships at the office, you need to tread carefully. First, you should note that most organisations have rules against office relationships. Secondly, the person you are interested in will have to continue to see you regularly, so expressing feelings which she may not reciprocate might her feel awkward coming to work after that. This could also constitute harassment at the workplace. As such, before expressing your feelings to her, you should be confident that she has an interest in you and that there is a possibility of a serious future for both of you. If you decide to do so, you should express your feelings directly (or through a trusted third party) and preferably not in a workplace setting. Otherwise, the situation might become uncomfortable for both of you.
Sometimes, people do things that may look like bad habits but are actually a way of expressing their pain or seeking help. Approach her with empathy and without judgment to really find out if there is a reason why she feels the need to take other students’ belongings. Perhaps, she may not have enough money to get her own. Also, explain to her how her actions affect others in case she isn’t aware. Show her that you are not shaming her but genuinely care for her. If this does not help and you don’t want to report it to the teacher, then just focus on safeguarding your things.
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(Manal al Adawi is a certified positive psychology coach in Oman)