DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a recent college graduate who has a lot on her plate. I feel completely flummoxed, and I am just trying to get stability. I constantly worry about my rent, job, savings, bills and health. This leaves me no time for my friends. I love my support group, but I have had a very rough year. My friends think I hate them because I haven’t spent any time with them. I feel horrible, but I need to focus on myself so I don’t sink.

I hate how I’ve neglected my friends, but I just don’t have time (or money) to dedicate to going to bars and nightclubs with them. I’ve been getting fewer and fewer messages from my friends because I’ve disappeared to work on myself. How can I communicate that I’ll be back soon? It may already be too late. Everyone seems to have figured out life and moved on without me. – Stuck in the Dust, Denver

DEAR STUCK IN THE DUST: While you feel like all of your friends have figured out their lives, chances are, this isn’t true. What is true is that you have not been connecting with them. If there is one particular friend who you feel might be sensitive to your situation, reach out to get together. Now may not be the time for a group activity, but a one-on-one may work well. Slowly rekindle a friend bond as you build your life. Remember that it takes a while for all of the pieces to fall into place. Work hard and have faith.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister recently got broken up with by her boyfriend of three years. She is extremely down in the dumps right now. She’s found her own one-bedroom apartment, but I know she is extremely lonely. Therefore, I make time in my day to call her or see her in person (we live in the same city). I want to build her self-esteem back up. She is devastated and thought she was going to marry this man, until he broke her heart.

I am completely open to letting her vent to me or ask for my advice. However, anytime I try to encourage her about her future, she ignores everything I say. She claims I “don’t understand” because I am currently happily married. I never brag about my marriage to her, and she knows I have gone through my fair share of heartbreak.

I want to help bring my sister back up, but she doesn’t want my advice. How can I help her without her mentioning that I can’t sympathize with her? I feel incredibly stuck. – Uplifting Times, Washington, D.C.

DEAR UPLIFTING TIMES: You can be a great listener. Your love for your sister and your ability to listen without judgment are what she needs most right now. Try to not offer advice. You do not know what to say to her to heal her heart. Instead, just bite your tongue about relationships for now. You can invite her to do fun things. You can also contact her single friends and suggest that they invite her to hang out. Hopefully, time will help her to welcome happiness again.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.