Adapted from online discussions.
Dear Carolyn: I have a husband, a job, an apartment, all the things I thought I needed. Yet I still feel there is a "something else" out there.
But I don't know if that is a new place, people, gig, hobby. I find myself wondering if this is what the hokeypokey is all about. Where do I go from here?
Carolyn says: There is always " 'something else' out there." The idea that reaching set milestones means you've won at life is so faulty, and so enduring.
You, the day, the people you choose, and the people you get by default: They're the raw materials of your life. Every day, you make something out of these things. That process never changes, no matter what the details look like — whether you're young, old, settled, unsettled, paired, unpaired, sure or unsure of where you're headed.
So, what have you got, and what are you doing with it? If it's not enough to feel gratifying, then what changes can you make to fix that? Start with the smallest and easiest things to change about yourself or your life, and work inward as needed. Good luck.
• Did you think you needed A Husband, or did you marry this guy because you wanted to spend the rest of your life with him rather than an abstract male?
Carolyn says: Thanks. Didn't realize abstract males were an option.
• Of course there's more out there. There are a zillion "mores" out there. What you have now is the foundation you need to reach out for all the things you can do with your life — just keep your eyes open for what you want to reach for next.
Carolyn says: Yes, yes.
Dear Carolyn: My sister disclosed her extramarital affair to me after it was over. Since then, she has cooled our relationship, which was quite close prior, and I feel she associates me with a reminder of the affair — I do think I'm the only other person who knows, as she did not disclose to her spouse. I haven't seen her in over two years now.
Our mom is starting to ask more questions about why we aren't as close. What is my duty in keeping this secret from our mom? I feel like I'm lying to her. Sis did ask me not to disclose to anyone else ever.
Carolyn says: Your duty is to talk to your sister first about all of it — from the distance between you to the weight of her secret. If you miss her, say so.
If you agreed to secrecy, then you talk to your sister, not your mom, about the secret's collateral damage.
And you start telling your mom, truthfully: "I'm not even sure why myself." Because you aren't. You "feel" the secret is the reason.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.