Ask Andrew: Weekly Advice Column In The Village Voice

The Village Voice has kicked off the New Year with a new weekly advice column from New York City’s premiere King of Partying. The Ask Andrew W.K. column appears in the print edition of the paper, as well as Village Voice online. The column aims to give readers an opportunity to delve into the accumulated life-experience, party-knowledge and cosmic-consciousness of W.K., who will endeavor to set you safely down the right left-hand path to a solution, a purpose, and (of course) a party. As Village Voice editor Brian McManus declares, “He is the Pope, Ann Landers, and Dear Abby at a raging kegger, helping talk the highest guy in the room off the chewed-up ledge of life.”

Every week, New York City's own party messiah takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution in his new weekly advice column in The Village Voice. Read the latest edition of Ask Andrew W.K. below or by clicking HERE.

A full archive of Ask Andrew W.K. can be found HERE.

Need his help? Just send him an email at: AskAWK@villagevoice.com

November 19th, 2014

Hi Andrew,

I'm hoping you can help me. I'm a passionate atheist and one of my best friends is too. I've known him since we were 6 years old and I love like him a brother. Just last week, he got married. He hired a non-denominational minister to conduct his ceremony. Everything was going fine until the minister said, "We are gathered here today, in the presence of God, to unite these two people in matrimony." I tensed up as soon as I heard the word "god" and basically spent the rest of the ceremony fuming over the fact that this minister snuck the god thing into my friend's special day. The whole thing was tarnished. I never really mentioned how upset I was to my friend or anyone else, but I can't stop thinking about it and feeling like I should've spoken up. I really hate religion and that religious people always need to force their dogma into everyone's lives. Just because they think everything's being controlled by some bearded sky-daddy doesn't mean they need to insert their faith into otherwise beautiful parts of my life. I'm the kind of person who stands up for atheism. I've made a commitment to fight against religion whenever I can. I'm most upset that my friend allowed this minister to say the word "god" during such an important moment in his life and then didn't say anything back or even seem to care. My question is: Should I mention this to my friend, or do I just let it go?

Kind regards,
Anonymous Atheist

Dear Anonymous Atheist,

Thank you for asking about this. You definitely shouldn't feel bad for caring. The fact that you're thinking a lot about this situation shows you have a thoughtful and strong character. It's natural for us to encounter moments which challenge us. Having the capacity to question our most deeply held opinions is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. Especially when we have the composure to resist our immediate emotional reactions and let our common sense lead us toward a more dignified type of contemplation.

Keeping an open mind and an open heart requires an incredible amount of determined effort. The act of questioning and the search for truth demands the utmost courage and discipline. And it's not a discipline built around staunch and unwavering adherence to one's beliefs, but an unwavering commitment to the quest for honesty, integrity, and discovery, even at the expense of one's own beliefs. This is to ensure that new insights and opportunities for enlightened growth aren't dismissed simply because they conflict with previously held opinions.

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November 12th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I've always been a quiet and reserved person, but I've been feeling pressure to be more talkative and social. Do you ever feel pressure to be a certain way? I see people who are so easy going with social interaction, but I really enjoy spending time alone. Do I need more friends to be good at partying? How do I become the life of the party?

Thanks very much,
In A Shell

Dear In A Shell,

Sometimes people who seem the most socially comfortable are actually just as shy as you. Sometimes people who are using exaggerated and overly-congenial behaviors are behaving that way to make their own type of shell or protective barrier, because of their own fear of seeming shy or too reserved, just like you are.

We all want to be liked. We all want to feel good about ourselves in the presence of others. This is a natural part of the human-spirit -- our desire for camaraderie and connection. But how we deal with that desire for connection -- and how we go about making it -- can lead to self-doubt, a sense that something is wrong with us, and a lot of unnecessarily distorted personality traits.

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November 5th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

Would you please do us all a favor and eat shit and die?

Thanks,
I Hate You

Dear I Hate You,

One of the most intriguing and particularly intimate cases of polarity in the phenomenon of eating shit is shit itself. Excrement, feces, diarrhea, and all various forms of human waste -- including urine and vomit -- are simultaneously repellant, yet an intimate part of our own bodies. It's truly astounding when one considers how going to the bathroom is really among the most crucial and fundamental aspects of living. Defecating is secondary only to eating, and is essentially eating in reverse -- intrinsically connected to the experience of growing and surviving.

If we think about it, shit itself is quite literally one of the worst "most important things" in the world. If we picture being tied down and forced to have a substance smeared all over our face and forced into our eyes, nose, and mouth, is it really possible to imagine that substance being something worse than shit? At first, we might think something like vomit could be worse, but after careful and honest introspective thought, if we had to choose, most of us would prefer being forced to put a stranger's vomit in our mouths, as opposed to their fresh feces. Blood, urine, semen, and dead rotting bodies are also awful to imagine eating, but they still don't quite equal the repulsive power of imagining a steaming soupy bagful of strong diarrhea being splashed onto your open-mouthed face.

...continue reading


October 29th, 2014

Hi, Andrew!

Believe it or not, I really don't like Halloween. Out of all my friends and family, I'm the only one who dreads this time of year and doesn't get excited about dressing up or going out and doing "spooky" stuff. I've always been this way. I just don't believe in this sort of stuff -- like ghosts, goblins, haunted houses, and all that supernatural nonsense. I believe in rational thought and science, and to be honest, it creeps me out to see so many millions of people allow themselves to get into such an obviously shallow frame of mind every year during this "holiday." How can I participate in Halloween without bringing everyone else down, while at the same time not compromising my belief that all this is moronic?

Halloween Hater

Dear Halloween Hater,

You don't need to enjoy dressing up for Halloween, and you certainly don't need to believe in stuff you don't want to. But maybe you can celebrate Halloween in a different way: For you, maybe Halloween can be the time of the year where you allow yourself to not believe in your beliefs. Even if just for one day, see what it feels like to doubt that which you think is undoubtable. Embrace the horrifying spirit of the unknown, the untested, and the unproven. Allow yourself to be skeptical of everything, even the idea of skepticism.

On Halloween, allow yourself to live in a world -- for one day -- where certain things cannot be explained, wrapped up, or proven. Allow yourself to exist between the known and the unknown, the rational and the irrational, the heavens and the earth, the earth and hell, the human and monstrous, the demonic and angelic, the tangible and ghostly, the good and the evil. Just because you don't believe in something -- "supernatural nonsense" -- doesn't mean it isn't real, or maybe even beyond the very concept of "real". This is the spirit of Halloween, and it's a science all its own.

...continue reading


October 22nd, 2014

Dear Andrew,

It's my birthday and I feel depressed. I never used to be one of those people that hated telling people their age, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm getting old. How do I keep the party going even though I'm old?

Yours truly,
Aging Rager

Dear Aging Rager,

Your fear of not being able to party as you get older isn't uncommon, but it's unwarranted. If anything, the more experience you have at partying, the better you get at partying. The more you understand about what brings you happiness, the more skills you can acquire to bring that happiness about. Living longer makes you better at life.

This is why our elders are so appealing. We realize they've accumulated extremely deep stores of knowledge and wisdom precisely because they aren't 18 years old. We stand in awe as we ponder what insights and secrets they've extracted from the volumes of life they've endured. Similarly, the more time we spend learning who we are in this world, the better we get at being ourselves -- this is how one becomes a master -- this is the great gift of aging.

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October 15th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I'm shitting my pants about this Ebola virus. Just hearing the word "Ebola" makes me literally sick to my stomach. I'm sick of hearing about this disease and I'm sick of feeling terrified about it. Every morning I wake up for work, I scramble to watch the news and read the latest horror stories, and then I spend the rest of the day irritable and panicked about this growing epidemic. And it seems like every day a new fear of mine has come true: more people getting sick, no one doing anything real to stop it, and more and more people chiming in about what should be done, without any real organization or plan of action. But what can be done? I feel like we're all going to die! How do I stop freaking out about this?

Scared Sick

Dear Scared Sick,

We are all going to die. And there's nothing that can be done about it. Whether we die of disease, old age, violence, or some freak accident, the fact is that life, and everything about it, is temporary. And this current disease, and the wave of stress and panic it's rightfully causing, is also a temporary situation. Nothing lasts forever, whether it be good or bad, except death. That is the best reason to stop freaking out about this and dying in general. It will happen someday whether we like it or not. But is that really a reason to be constantly depressed? Or is the fact that we're going to die what actually gives our life value?

Disease, disasters, and random fatal accidents constantly remind us of our own inescapable mortality. They remind us how much our very existence hangs precariously in the balance at all times. They remind us that the people we think are in control don't really have an idea what's going on and don't really know how to save us or run the world. We're all powerless in one way or another -- some more, some less -- but our mortality is one thing we all have in common.

...continue reading


October 8th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I love pizza. And I eat lots of it. Now, for the first time in my life, I'm worried that my love of pizza is bad for me. I read some pretty shocking health food articles that focused on eating only natural food, and some of my friends have started giving me a hard time, basically saying that pizza isn't "real food." They say it's poisonous junk that is slowly killing me. They say I should live a more healthy and natural life. That my way of eating isn't part of an "authentic" lifestyle. I'm not severely overweight, and I'm a pretty active and happy person, but now whenever I eat pizza I feel kind of depressed. I know you love pizza as much as I do. How do I keep my love affair with pizza going but also live a good and natural life?

Thanks for your help,
Pondering A Pizza-Less Life

Dear Pondering A Pizza-Less Life,

Pizza is a state of mind. Pizza is way of looking at the world. Pizza is part of a true belief that we as humans can create our own sources of true joy. And the joy that pizza brings is real and tangible. Happiness, from pizza or any number of things, is authentically crucial to our survival and well being, just as much as water or air. Pizza is more than just food; it's a genuine physical and spiritual pleasure. Anyone who says that money cannot buy happiness has clearly never spent their money on pizza. These are not exaggerations -- these are sincere recognitions of the value pizza has to us as a reliable source of joy.

Just like music isn't just sound, pizza isn't just flour and tomato sauce and cheese. It's a phenomenon with deep meaning for us. Pizza is an invention on the same level as the invention of electric guitar. What makes humanity great is that we can go beyond nature and still have it be a part of our nature -- our natural ability to make new things is a natural part of what makes us supernatural beings.

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October 1st, 2014

Hi Andrew,

I'm a terrible procrastinator. It started back to high school, when I literally put off everything I had to do. Sometimes I would get very inspired and motivated, and other times I just felt so lazy I couldn't do anything. By college, it had got so bad that I basically had a panic attack when I avoided writing two big papers until the night before they were due and literally went through hell and back to finish them in time. The problem is, I'm good at procrastinating. I got good grades on those papers, and haven't really ever missed a deadline. It's just the putting stuff off and the pressure piling up that's really wearing me down. I think all the stress has taken years off my life. I'm seeing it get worse lately and I just need to figure out how to get that spark that kicks me into gear. For some reason, I just keep sitting around and doing other stuff instead of what I'm supposed to do. Look what I'm doing right now... I'm writing to you instead of actually just doing my work. Please help me!

Uninspired Procrastinator

Dear Uninspired Procrastination,

I think procrastination is highly underrated. Or at least, it's a word that's overused and not necessarily what you're describing here. In fact, it's possible that almost all the stress surrounding your situation comes not from potential issues caused by delaying your work, but from the fear, anxiety, and stigma surrounding the phenomenon of procrastination as a concept itself.

For example, in your letter, you didn't mention any times when you actually missed a deadline or had a bad outcome from procrastinating, you mainly just expressed your deep concern about being someone who procrastinates and the anguish your concern causes you. Sure, doing a lot of work at the last minute takes a lot of energy and is super intense, but that's how the process works at times. I don't know how old you are now, but assuming you've been functioning this way for many years, it's highly possible that the way you work on tasks and manage your time is perfectly OK, and that it's your perception of it being flawed that is causing the majority of your suffering, and tension. Sometimes when one's own natural inclinations and skills clash with preconceived ideas of "good behavior," there develops a perverse and sadistic cycle of torment, where your spirit wants to flourish, but your rational mind constantly abuses and punishes it for "misbehaving."

...continue reading


September 24th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I saw an essay you shared called "White People Problems" that was a pretty angry response to one of your advice columns. I think it's cool that you consider views from people who disagree with you, but from what I can tell, the person who wrote the "White People Problems" essay was basically saying that by being a white person, you're automatically luckier than other people -- that you're "privileged," and that you don't really understand how hard life is. Well, I'm white, and guess what? I don't feel privileged at all. Like many people, I was raised by a single mother after my father (a drug addict) bolted. I currently work three part-time jobs, none of which pays much more than minimum wage. I started working as soon as I was legally able and never had a real opportunity to go to college. And yet I keep hearing how privileged I am to be white. So I ask you, should I feel...

Guilty For Being White?

Dear Guilty For Being White,

You're a person. And being a person is not something to feel guilty about. We can feel guilty about other things -- things we've done, things we've said, things we've thought or believed. But to feel guilty about who you are is not what guilt is for. Guilt is only useful if it's experienced in relation to an act we chose. To have been born -- to have come into being in a particular way -- is an act you did not choose. You can only choose what to do about it.

We must realize the incredible cruelty faced by countless members of our human race, and how the reverberations of the past are still resonating in very real ways. Some things that don't seem present for some are up-close-and-personal for others. There are people who have more from the start, and there are people who have the odds stacked against them. We must have compassion for the plight of others, and realize how we may, knowingly or unknowingly, play a part in it. We must constantly imagine what it's like to be someone else -- not just to "walk in someone's shoes," but to actually try and inhabit their very soul -- to try and feel how they feel and think how they think. Yet we must also respect and realize that no one can ever truly comprehend what it's like to be someone else -- we can never fully know what they've gone through or how it feels to exist as them.

...continue reading


September 17th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

One of my closest and oldest friends just told me last night that he wants to join the Army. I was completely shocked. He had never seemed interested in this before and never really mentioned it, and now he's decided to not go to college but sign up with the military instead.

At first I just didn't say anything, but then I got really pissed off and told him not to do it. I believe in peace and am just so upset at the idea of someone I've known and loved for so long participating in this kind of violence. I basically told him that if he goes through with this, I won't be able to be his friend anymore. I can't stand by in good conscience and let my friend go kill people or get killed, can I?

Pissed Off Pacifist

Dear Pissed Off Pacifist,

Take a look around at your life and where you are right now. How do you think we got here? Millions of humans literally going through hell to carve out this convoluted, if comfortable, version of reality from the raw and brutally indifferent earth. The ground we're on has literally been built on the blood and bodies of countless lifeforms who died in a raging battle to build the world as it is now. It's a world that is deeply flawed and full of ugliness, needless suffering, blind cruelty, and screaming insanity, but it is the world we have built together, one way or another. No one can exist and say that this is not their world -- you built it too, and we are maintaining it every moment we live in it. No matter how badly we want to avoid violence, we must acknowledge the violence that we emerged from -- the sacrifices of so many often nameless people and creatures who really did die and kill to make what we all are engaged in now.

We are always standing on hallowed ground. Everything is stained with blood, and to exist at all is to benefit from the sacrifice and savagery of the countless victims and villains who came before us. We don't have to be happy about what they did or how we arrived to live in this luxuriously decadent moment, but we must acknowledge that nearly everything we interact with daily has come with a price. Much had to be lost for anything to be gained. Many people truly did give up everything, or had everything taken away, in order to help build what we now can take for granted, in all its complex and flawed beauty...

...continue reading

Photo by Anthony Dubois


September 10th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I'm writing today because you're such a positive person and I need help dealing with negativity. I've been with my boyfriend for two years, but recently I've been having a harder and harder time hanging out with him at his house. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I have a problem with him personally, I just have a problem with his music. He's always been into metal and pretty aggressive stuff, but now his musical taste seems to be getting truly evil. I can't even describe how some of this music sounds -- it's just really negative vibes. The album artwork and posters and books he has in his room all confirm this. Lots of blood and guts and devils and just evil-looking stuff. I'm not a Goody Two-shoes or anything, but I was raised in a very loving family who taught me that stuff like this really can be bad for your karma, and I really don't feel comfortable around it. And even more than that, I really don't want this stuff corrupting my boyfriend and making him change from the loving, positive person he is. I tried removing some of the albums from his room and he freaked out. I tried telling him I wouldn't come over with that stuff in his house, but that didn't work either. I don't want to make him mad, but I do want this negative stuff out of our lives. So, since you're so focused on positivity, I'm hoping you can give me some advice. How do I rescue my boyfriend and our relationship from these negative influences?

Thank you,
Sick of Negative Vibes

Dear Sick of Negative Vibes,

You know what the biggest negative vibe is in this situation? You. Trying to make your boyfriend give up the music he enjoys -- that is true negativity. I understand how you're feeling, but rather than censoring someone's experience, I suggest you strive to develop your own spirit and make it large and strong enough to appreciate and interact with all types of emotional concepts, all types of feelings, all types of people, and all types of beliefs -- including those that deal with the ideas of darkness, cruelty, death, destruction, anger, hatred, and evil. Desperately trying to hide -- or make other people hide -- from certain types of feelings is a losing battle. And it's likely that we'll experience more hurt and damage in our efforts to avoid that part of the world than we will by developing a heart and mind capable of engaging with the full spectrum of reality, from light to dark, and beyond.

It's interesting how often people confuse "evil sounding" music with true evil. By its very nature, music is benevolent. Music means well. It's virtually impossible to bend the will of music toward a truly negative intention. Music can be used to achieve all sorts of things, depending on who wants to use it and for what purpose, but the music itself is pure goodness. Music doesn't waste its time in dealing with human concepts like "good and evil." Thankfully, music exists in a realm above and beyond the need for logical ideas and theories. Music is where we can find relief from reason and truly experience "pure feeling." Music is what feelings sound like -- feelings before we analyze and deconstruct them into digestible abstractions like "happy feeling" or "sad feeling." Music is just pure feeling.

...continue reading


September 3rd, 2014

Hey, Andrew.

Thanks for doing what you do and helping people. I'm going to make this short and to the point. My older brother was diagnosed with cancer last week. My whole family is freaking out and trying to deal with the news. Everyone is trying to find different ways to help, but something my grandmother said has really got me angry. She said we should all just "pray for my brother," like prayer would actually save his life. Just thinking about it now makes my fists clench with frustration. We need to actively help my brother and do actual things to save him, not kneeling on the ground and mumbling superstitious nonsense. I got into a fight with my grandmother and the rest of my family about this and now I feel worse than ever. I need to get them to see that praying and religious mumbo-jumbo doesn't help. How do I explain this to them?

Thanks for reading this,
Not Gonna Pray

Dear Not Gonna Pray,

I'm deeply sorry to hear about your brother's diagnosis. I'm sending you my thoughts and my heart goes out to your brother and your whole family. Guess what? That was me praying for you. I think the idea of "praying" is a lot less complicated, a lot more powerful, and a little different than you may realize. In fact, I'll bet you're already praying all the time and just don't realize it.

Prayer is a type of thought. It's a lot like meditation — a type of very concentrated mental focus with passionate emotion directed towards a concept or situation, or the lack thereof. But there's a special X-factor ingredient that makes "prayer" different than meditation or other types of thought. That X-factor is humility. This is the most seemingly contradictory aspect of prayer and what many people dislike about the feeling of praying. "Getting down on your knees" is not about lowering your power or being a weakling, it's about showing respect for the size and grandeur of what we call existence — it's about being humble in the presence of the vastness of life, space, and sensation, and acknowledging our extremely limited understanding of what it all really means.

...continue reading


August 27th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for writing your column. It's really helped me lately, which is why I'm writing to ask you about this: It feels like the world is ending. Every time I turn on the TV, there's a new crisis: War, riots, environmental catastrophes, disease, financial collapse, cyber crime, religious rage, not to mention the boring little problems of my own regular life.

In one week, I literally saw the top stories in the newspaper all describing various versions of Armageddon, one after another -- just a big list of apocalyptic events. And it seems like every recent Hollywood movie focuses on some apocalyptic disaster or dystopian vision of the not-too-distant future. If someone would've told me 15 years ago that things would get this bad, I would've found it hard to believe. And now I'm wondering, in 15 more years will they be even worse? What the hell is going on? How can things keep going this way? Is the world ending?

Please help,
Afraid and Paranoid

Dear Afraid and Paranoid,

The world isn't ending, it's changing. And it's up to us to make it change for the better. When a baby is born and turns into a teenager, we don't say the baby "ended" and the teenager "began," we realize it's a fluid, if uncoordinated, transformation from one version of a young person into another. Both the baby and the teenager are unique beings with their own qualities, but they are also both part of one ultimate ongoing person.

When a young man or woman first physically becomes an adult with the ability to reproduce, it can be a traumatic and extremely distressing experience. As much as it's exciting to realize one's body is becoming more powerful and mature, it's also extremely frightening to realize that one is forever leaving behind childhood and the associated innocence, and moving into a new version of life with new endowments and responsibilities that come with them. Whether we like it or not, every fundamental aspect of life is tied to change, transformation, and revolution -- things turning into other things.

It's possible that human civilization itself is in some version of adolescence right now, learning how to manage and apply newly acquired powers and abilities -- testing the limits of our surroundings and enjoying, yet fearing, what we're capable of. As a civilization, we're constantly crossing new thresholds, encountering unforeseen and terrifying situations, and having to struggle with the painful realization that we can never return to the way things were, no matter how badly we may want to. At the same time, and in a less obvious way, we're realizing there's something perpetual, universal, and inevitable about our own development and the ceaseless change we encounter on scales both large and small. It's a drama that plays itself out on every level, globally as well as individually. It's the experience of being part of a living world.

...continue reading


August 20, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I've got a major road rage problem. Ever since I first got my driver's license, my anger behind the wheel has grown worse and worse. It's gotten so bad that my girlfriend won't let me drive her around any more, and even my friends are freaked out. And even when someone else drives, I still can't help cursing out other drivers and screaming the whole time. It feels like being on the road is a battle and every other vehicle is my mortal enemy. It's really draining and puts me in a bad mood that lasts long after I get out of the car. Yesterday I punched my car's ceiling so hard that I put a dent in it and badly bruised my hand. I've never had an actual car accident, but I've had a few violent confrontations with other drivers and I can see this whole thing ending badly. Meanwhile, it's just making me a miserable person. How do I become a peaceful driver?

Thanks for your help, Road Rage Fink

Dear Road Rage Fink,

Driving, by its very nature, isn't really peaceful. I'm actually writing this response while riding in a car. We're hurdling across the landscape over a concrete slab, in a metal container being propelled by thousands of contained explosions. While there is a meditative state that occurs while driving, especially over time when the techniques of maneuvering the vehicle are second nature, we should never forget how inherently intense and violent the entire experience is. Next time you're in a car, look out the side window at how fast the road is flying by. And if you're someone who has been fortunate enough to survive one of the millions of accidents that have taken place since the invention of the car, you're already well aware of just how nightmarish cars can be. Few inventions have had a more beneficial and simultaneously dehumanizing impact on daily life than motor vehicles. While automobiles are beautiful and helpful in connecting us with the world, they have also had an equally deep and disorienting effect on human perception and social behavior.

People behave in ways towards other people in cars that they never would dream of when outside of cars. If we're walking down the street amongst a crowd of other folks, there's an entirely different dynamic to the interaction as well as the way we feel about the people around us and their conduct. Automobiles have a personality of their own that we experience separately from the people they contain. The human beings inside become an abstraction or an idea of a person, almost like a toy has been placed in the driver's seat just to make it seem like someone is in control. A car is a moving room that contains us and confines us, and while we feel we are in control of the vehicle, and that it is confining us for our own safety, it also results in an incredibly influential distortion of how we experience the world.

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August 13, 2014

Hello Andrew,

I must admit, I've only recently discovered you and your writing, but I read your column on the dehumanizing effects of our political divide I found it quite poignant. I was intrigued enough to look further into you and your work, and I must say, with all due respect, I just don't understand your obsession with "partying." The juvenile antics, unkempt image, and "partying" themes cheapen the quality of your ideas and, to be frank, make it very hard to take you seriously. I guess I just don't get it.

Sincerely,
Intelligent Observer

Dear Intelligent Observer,

The very nature of partying is to provide a life-saving release from the constant pressure to "take things seriously." Seriousness of the sort you're describing is precisely why things like partying are crucial to our mental and spiritual health. I take joy very seriously, and partying is the formal pursuit and celebration of joy itself. I'm having a party to celebrate life. I'm having a party to celebrate partying itself.

It seems to me that people often equate intelligence with seriousness, and stupidity with playfulness. These people also tend to overvalue a sort of stoic distance and lack of excitement and enthusiasm as somehow being a sign of wisdom and advanced thinking. An austere and somber attitude doesn't make someone smarter or more intellectual. Sometimes people are overly serious because they're afraid of looking unkempt, unimportant, uneducated -- they fear they'll "make a fool out of themselves" if they don't remain dower and stiff. In my opinion, if more people aspired to the level of life-mastery and self-actualization that a true fool has attained, there'd be much less conflict in the world. Fools realize that the most ignorant people are usually the ones most violently accusing others of being ignorant. Fools realize that in most cases, understanding is overrated. Most importantly, fools realize that no one really knows what's going on, starting first and foremost with themselves.

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August 6, 2014

Hi Andrew,

I'm writing because I just can't deal with my father anymore. He's a 65 year old super right wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I'm more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don't have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there's still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Thanks for your help,
Son of A Right-Winger

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Then read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn't one. You've reduced your father -- the person who created you -- to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don't consider your dad a person of his own standing -- he's just "your dad." You've also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that's left in its place is arguments that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn't satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is being destroyed by one side believing that the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

...continue reading


July 30, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I'm a 15 year old girl in my first serious relationship and I don't really know if I'm doing it right. I try to make my boyfriend happy, but I think I just can't do the girlfriend role right for him. Of course I love him, and he says he loves me too, but a lot of the times I feel bad about myself and uncomfortable because of things he says to me. Sometimes he's really mean and calls me stupid and insults the way I look. He almost always apologizes later and will try and make it up to me by buying me clothes or just being really sweet. But I just have this feeling of not being good enough and it makes me feel self conscious, like I'm not pretty enough. He asked me to dress more like the models in magazines even though I don't look anything like them and never could. I'm not a diva or high maintenance like some other girls at my school, but I sometimes just feel stupid around him. My parents got divorced two years ago and it's been really good to have a boyfriend to help me through these times. He will pick me up and take me to movies and I can just forget about my problems for a while. But a lot of times I wonder if I'm good enough for him. I don't want to say anything to him because I really don't want to be a bitch or make him mad. I don't want to lose him. I need him right now really badly, and I love him so much. How can I make this relationship work?

Thank you!
Lovesick Girl

Dear Lovesick Girl,

You're a wonderful, special, and beautiful person who deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, and love. No matter how much you may care about your boyfriend, and no matter how much he says he loves you, you should never be made to feel ugly, or pressured into acting or dressing a certain way or doing anything that makes you feel bad. You should be able to be yourself. There is nothing wrong with you that you need to fix in order to be good enough for him. That's the best thing about a true love relationship -- you get to be yourself exactly as you are, in fact, you get to be yourself more than ever, and you get to be loved exactly because that's who you are.

If your boyfriend is acting this way, it doesn't mean he's necessarily a bad person, especially if this is his first serious relationship too. He might not really understand how to treat anyone properly, let alone a girlfriend. You both are learning as you go, and if you really do love him and want to stay with him, then you can help each other get better at being together.

For starters, you must talk to him. Even if you're afraid he might get mad, you should tell him how you feel and that it makes you sad when he acts a certain way or says certain things. Even though it can feel very awkward and uncomfortable, a true relationship requires you to be open and able to talk about anything and everything. It especially requires you to be able to tell him when he's hurting you. And if he really does love you, then hurting you would be the last thing he'd ever want to do.

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July 23rd, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I've been really discouraged lately. Without going into too much detail, a lot of my dreams just haven't panned out the way I planned. I used to have so much hope and drive, but now every day I just feel more disillusioned. Part of me keeps telling myself to never give up, and then the other part of me is saying I'm a loser and am just fooling myself thinking I can ever accomplish anything in life. These days I've been feeling more unmotivated and depressed than ever. What if you're just too frustrated with failure to bother trying anymore? How far can you push yourself?

Yours truly,
Discouraged And Down

Dear Discouraged And Down,

You can push yourself incredibly, incredibly far. You can push yourself further than you can imagine and then realize you have only barely started pushing. You can push yourself until it feels like you have drained every bit of energy you have, and then still find a way to push yourself even further. And then further. Forever. Until you die. This is called "going for it." This is called "being hardcore." This is called really living your life.

It's strange how we've been conditioned to think that life is supposed to be "easy" and feel fine all the time. The only way to make life easy is to not be alive. So much progress has been made in many areas of day-to-day living, but the core experience of being alive and caring about stuff will always be challenging. All the modern technological conveniences we have aren't there to make life easier, they are there to make it better -- more convenient, more efficient, and with more opportunity, but not free of effort.

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July 16th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I'm writing because I'm being bullied every day and I just can't take it anymore. I'm going to be starting my sophomore year of high school this fall, and every day I've just been fearing it worse and worse. I used to be a pretty happy person. I was picked on a little bit in middle school and before, but once high school started it's just way more and I'm so depressed now that I just hate my life. There's this one group of students, both girls and guys, and their whole hobby is making my life miserable. They go on everywhere and say lies about me, and also make fun of me in class and say I'm a slut, which isn't even true at all. They've stolen my backpack a bunch of times, and one time they gave it back to me and they had dumped soda all over everything. I hated every day of my freshman year. My mom let me stay home from school as much as possible, but if I miss too many days next year, I won't pass my classes, and the teachers were already getting mad at me about it. I just can't win no matter what I do. My mom has tried talking to the teachers and the principal and even the parents of these kids. But the more they teach them about how bullying is wrong, the more they always find a new way to be even more mean to me. We are now considering trying to move me to a different school. My mom is hoping to move to a different town, so we can have a fresh start. Why are people so mean? They are ruining the happy person I once was.

Signed,
Help Me Please

Dear Help Me Please,

No one can break you. You are a billion times stronger than these bullies will ever know. You are even stronger than you know. No matter how hard it may seem to keep your head up and keep going, you must hold on to your power, and not give in to their cruelty. hey want you to feel bad, and your feelings are the one thing you have control over. You might not have control over what they do, but you can always control how you respond to them.

You can simply refuse to let them break your spirit. The most important and valuable possession you have in this whole world is your spirit. Your spirit is where all the best things about you reside. Your spirit is where your courage, strength, kindness, love, creativity, happiness, inspiration, care, belief, and imagination all live. The mean people of the world want to break down your spirit so they can destroy all the beautiful things that are protected inside of it. But guess what? There is only ONE person in the world that can break down your spirit, and that's YOU. You have the one and only key to the lock that guards your spirit, and you never have to give it to anyone unless you want to.

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July 9th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

My mom is a big fan of yours and told me I should write to you about this, so here it is. For as long as I can remember, our family dog Riley has been part of my life. He's a Golden Retriever and just the nicest dog ever. He's almost 13 now, which I realize for a dog is kind of old, but my parents told me yesterday that our vet said Riley has to be put to sleep next week. I'm really mad about this. I realize Riley's not as strong and energetic as he used to be, but that doesn't mean he needs to be killed! My parents said that even though Riley seems OK on the outside, he's very sick inside and that the best thing we can do is make it painless for him to go peacefully. I know my parents are sad about it too, because when they told us it was the first time I saw my dad cry real hard. My sister and I have been begging them to not listen to the vet and to let Riley live longer, but they won't listen to us. I know pets can't live forever, but I can't bring myself to end Riley's life when he could maybe still live longer, even for just a few more days. What should I do?

Sincerely,
Help Me Save My Riley

Dear Help Me Save My Riley,

I'm so sorry to hear about Riley. This is one of the hardest things ever. I totally understand why you feel angry and why this seems so frustrating. When pets get old and sick, it's hard to tell sometimes what they're feeling. They might look OK, but because they can't talk or communicate as easily, we have to trust the animal doctors to really understand what is happening with their health. Sometimes when an animal gets sick, it can be very painful for them.

When I was 12 years old, my parents decided to put our dog, Tavish, to sleep. Just like you, they had Tavish since even before I was born. I had grown up with him as a member of the family and never really imagined a time when he wouldn't be there. One day, it seemed like out of nowhere, Tavish changed. The fur on his face turned grey, he didn't like to go outside very much anymore, and he would bump into walls because he couldn't see too well. Even though I didn't know how sick he was, I could tell he was getting old because he laid around and slept most of the time and didn't like to run around and play.

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July 2nd, 2014

Dear Andrew,

A year ago, I got into my first real fist fight. I nearly pissed myself with fear, but I won, and it felt unlike anything I've ever experienced. It was such a high. For the first time in my life, I felt indestructible and had an outlet for all my years of pent up frustration. Now I get into fist fights all the time. Every weekend I go out looking for fights -- mean and hateful. All this violence is starting to worry everyone around me, and it's honestly starting to worry me too. It helped me blow off steam at first, but now ... my biggest fear is that I'll hit my girlfriend during an argument or get stabbed during a bar fight gone wrong. Should I become a professional fighter as a healthy outlet for this compulsion? Should I force myself to stop the fighting altogether? Do you wanna fight me?

Thanks,
I'll Fuck You Up

Dear I'll Fuck You Up,

No, thanks. I don't want to fight you. The only person I'm really interested in fighting is myself, and that's an ongoing war I'm sometimes losing and sometimes winning, one battle at a time. I'm sure you'd beat me in this sort of fist fight, anyway. My strength is in partying, which only involves fist punching the air and head banging for fun -- not fist punching someone's face and banging their head on the concrete.

People who love fighting are very particular. I had a friend who got into fist fights constantly. He claimed he didn't enjoy it, but he seemed unable to resist violent confrontations and went to great lengths to make things come to blows. He got in fist fights with taxi drivers about which route they took. He got into fights with strangers about how they looked at him. He got into fights just because.

He lived by a code that listed the steps you have to go through in order to to become a real man. He said you had to:

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June 25th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

My best friend just died. He was killed in a car accident. I'm totally devastated; I can't eat or sleep or even breathe. He was like a brother to me. We had been friends since we were really young and we grew up together. I feel beyond sad, and also angry. I don't know what to do. Life feels like it has lost its meaning and I can't bring myself to do much of anything. I've never had someone this close to me die before. Now that he's gone, it's got me afraid of the other people I love dying, too. Why does life have to work this way? Why do people have to die? Please help me. Please.

With gratitude,
Missing My Friend

Dear Missing My Friend,

I'm truly sorry your friend has died. My heart and thoughts go out to you and all of your friend's family and everyone else who was close to this young man. I'm assuming he was young because the particularly painful anguish you're describing is usually reserved for someone who leaves the earth way too soon. It's also sad when a very old person dies, but in a different way than when we lose someone who still had so much life left to live. Even though you and I aren't physically near each other, and even though I didn't know your friend, I feel for you.

I'm thinking of you, and you're reading this and thinking of me. There is a magic here, the magic of human love. It's a genuine feeling that I hope you can sense, wherever you are and whatever else you're feeling. I'm sending you all the thoughts and concentrated love I can muster. You never need to feel alone in your darkest moments of loss and sadness because even strangers can care about you. Even people you've never met, who are thousands of miles away, can really care about you -- that's the magic of humanity. And it's by using this magic that you can still be close with your friend who died.

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June 18th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

I'm literally drowning in stress. Anxiety has taken over my life and I'm exhausted from worrying. It's gotten to the point where my mind has become a whirlwind of tension and spazzing-out. Money problems have been a major cause of my fretting, but I'm also sick of feeling like I never have enough hours in the day to do the work that would solve the money issues. It's a catch 22 and I'm past my breaking point. I can't get the necessary work done, let alone have time for any fun. I always feel rushed, running late, and short on energy. Those feelings, added to all my other daily stress, have me acting like an insane person. I feel like simplifying everything and making my life care-free, risk-free, and responsibility-free. But is that really the only way to get rid of my stress and have the time to enjoy life? Other people can't possibly be living like this.

Thanks,
Super Stressed

Dear Super Stessed,

I can actually relate to everything you described. In fact, I think just about every single person has felt this way at some point, if not all the time. Stress is part of life -- learning to manage it is the trick. Sure, like you, maybe I've fantasized about some perfect situation where I'm a dude just chilling in a hammock on a tropical island without a care in the world. But when I really think about it, that kind of life would probably get boring, and the "Don't worry, be happy" attitude is not only unrealistic and forced, but also spiritless and bland.

It's true that a lot of the times I've felt stressed, it's lead to all sorts of other really problematic feelings - mood swings full of anger and rage, severe insomnia and paranoia, feelings of hopelessness and dread, and just waves of pure unrestrained depression. I actually think many of the worst emotional states are brought on purely by chronic worry.

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June 11th, 2014

Dear Andrew,

My girlfriend of four years just broke up with me last night. I'm totally devastated. Even though we've had our ups and downs, she just dropped me from out of nowhere. She also told me she cheated on me, which just makes this all worse. We had been dating since high school and I thought we'd be together forever. She said she wants to stay friends and to help each other through the breakup by staying in contact. My heart is shattered and I still love her, even though I'm also angry and so hurt. I can't imagine how I can continue living a regular life without her. How do I stop all these feelings and forget about her?

Sincerely,
Devastated Dumped Dude

Dear Devastated Dumped Dude,

You don't stop all these feelings. You should feel devastated. Y

This news item was posted on: January 08, 2014