Originally Published: July 28, 2016 5:55 a.m.
Dear Annie: I can’t stand R.E.M. (the band, not the sleep cycle). I just never understood their appeal. I was born in the early ‘80s and went to college in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, so a lot of people around me loved the band. One insufferably “alternative” guy I went to school with had a giant R.E.M. tattoo on his back.
This hasn’t really been an issue for me as an adult. The lead singer, Michael Stipe, stays out of the public eye, and when my satellite radio station puts on “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” for the billionth time, I simply change the station to one that’s playing a song by Taylor Swift, Drake or Adele. But this does become a problem sometimes – whenever I’m with my wife.
It’s not what you think. She’s not like some big R.E.M. superfan. I’m not sure I could have made that work. The thing is that her brother, who is my age, had a rough time in high school. He was depressed, even to the point of being suicidal, and claims that R.E.M. saved his life.
I know depression is real, and I am glad my brother-in-law is doing well (he’s married with two kids), but I can’t help myself. I still think R.E.M. is unlistenable. When they come on the radio, my wife turns it up and talks about how special the band is. Why does this bother me so much? – Losing My Religion
Dear Losing: What about finding some compassion? We all have our pet peeves. I’m not the biggest R.E.M. fan, either. But I want you to try – sincerely try – to put your grievances with the band aside for 5 1/2 minutes and listen to their song “Everybody Hurts.” Imagine how someone who feels utterly alone might be comforted by its message.
Yes, it’s hard to remember to be tolerant when annoying things flare up, but empathy works like a muscle; the more you exercise it the more it grows. You’ll be stronger for the effort.
Dear Annie: It was my 25th birthday recently, and my fiance and I had a specific themed party on that day, but it was all of his friends who came over. I am on the shy side and didn’t wish to make my birthday a big deal, so I thought it’d be fun to have this party for the guys. After they all found out it was my birthday and showered me with positive vibes, one of the guys asked me why I wasn’t out with my friends. He didn’t mean anything harmful by it, and I didn’t think too hard about the question in the moment. But later on, it had me thinking of the answer: “Because I have no friends.” After graduating college, my closest friends all dispersed into the world, and I found myself no longer surrounded by them.
I do live with my best friend – my fiance. However, I feel a bit sad with the realization that I have no other friends. I love spending time with my guy, but I don’t have a close-knit group like him anymore. His friends are great, but I want some, too. Am I silly for wanting this? – Locally Lonely
Dear Locally: You’re not silly for wanting friends, but you are silly if you think they’re going to magically appear at your doorstep.
Surely, some of your fiance’s friends have girlfriends. Try reaching out to them. Say yes to more things. Become an active part of your community. Check out websites designed to connect people around specific interests, such as Meetup. Commit to doing something every week that nudges you out of your comfort zone, because you’re not going to find anything new inside it.
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