Ask Athena: Brave New Worlds

The first step in any worthwhile transformation is being open to change. 


Q: I love and trust my girlfriend, but I’m so jealous of everything that’s good in her life that isn’t me: her job, her friends, her sister – even her cat rubs me the wrong way, when she buys him yet another stupid toy from our household budget. It’s not a lot of money, but just the idea irritates me and it’s stupid, I know, but I can’t stop and it’s causing tension. I don’t want to lose her, what can I do?

A: Whoa. Jealous of a cat? Well, at least the first thing you are doing is admitting you have a problem. Have you considered therapy? What you are displaying is not simply jealousy. It is a desire for control. You want to control her enjoyment of life and family. These tendencies are dangerous for her and for you. You need to step back and figure out who you are and get comfortable with yourself and your desires. Your girlfriend does not exist to be a part of you and your identity. You are two individuals who love each other. To have and stay in a healthy relationship, you need to “do you.”  Find yourself and your own peace. You will be mentally happier and won’t be fighting with Felix the cat for affection.

Finally, I’d like to commend you for your honesty and willingness to change. That’s the attitude you need right now, to navigate your feelings and what it’s going to take for you to feel truly secure and confident in your relationship. Remember, you can’t force someone to love you — you just need to be someone who can be loved. Good luck and best wishes for happiness.


Q: I took a short break from college in my junior year expecting to go back and now I’m in my late 40s with no degree. I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to school, especially lately, every day feels like I’m not living up to my potential. But it’s been so long, so much has changed, is it even feasible for someone my age to catch up this much lost time? How to even start?! And realistically what’s the point, when half my life is over already. What do you think?

A: You start now. Every day, you are getting older and further away from your college days. Think of it this way: if 60 is the new 40, then 40 must be the new 20, right?

And it’s not like you have to quit your job to begin this journey. Look into evening and weekend classes. Virtual, even. Philly has lots of options for higher learning! Many of them have special tracks for “non-traditional” students, such as Temple University’s “Adult Learners” program. Check out some of the classes you could be taking, part time, that can go towards completing your degree.

Going back to school is a big decision at any time in a person’s life, so be honest with yourself and realistic. Research what’s available, and imagine how it all might work with your current schedule. Once you see a real plan start coming together, you’ll likely feel more motivated to take the next step. And if you’re not, that’s OK too. But the last thing you want to do is spend the rest of your life wondering what could’ve been, and possibly short-changing yourself in the process.

Don’t hesitate to dip your feet into the water, and ask all the questions you need to move forward. You might want to look into career counseling, and perhaps a good old-fashioned campus tour. Lots of schools will take time with adult students to explore whether you need that degree or maybe a professional certificate will do instead. There are also programs that take into account lived and professional experience, which can earn you college credits. Explore every opportunity you can.

The world is full of examples of people who started new careers in their later years and who were successful at it. You are not going to catch up on lost time. You are going to take charge of who you are and what you want to be. Go for it. I’ll be rooting for you!

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Read the last Ask Athena here.

About Athena 44 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to

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