Ask Aunty (Spring 2017, April 17)

Q. Auntie, my friend recently had an intervention with me… little did I know, I’m an alcoholic and possibly a drug addict. This is news to me but now I’m contemplating life and my faults. As far as I knew, I have a couple beers a night! Any advice?


A: That’s a really tough situation. Let me ask you, then: Do you agree with your friend? How does drinking and/or substance abuse affect your life? Do you want to quit, or do you think you just need moderation?

If you do think you have a problem, then there are no easy solutions, shortcuts or magic cures. It's an addiction, a habit, and it takes time and determination to break it. You have to make the conscious decision to quit (or at least do something about it) every single day. You need to make the decision not to have another drink.

There are tons of support organisations available, where you will find incredible people who really want to help you and offer coping strategies. Even here at UH Hilo, we have Counseling Services to rely on. Sometimes it's hard to see for ourselves how our decisions and actions are shaping our lives. Your friend clearly sees how substance abuse is affecting your life and cares enough to point it out to you.

Think about the reasons why you drink - and think about all the reasons you have not to. Why not steadily reduce the amount that you drink? Try “quitting” for a week - then a month - and see how it affects your life. You need to seriously ask yourself if you’re an addict, and then you need to decide what you’re going to do about it. Ultimately, if you want to stop drinking and/or substance abuse, you need to make that decision for yourself. Until then, nothing will change.

Q. I’m struggling to figure out how much is too much schoolwork! I know I could handle 18 credits but I’m wondering if this will have too much of an impact on all other aspects of my life.


A: It's too much schoolwork when you feel like you can’t catch a breath, when you feel like there's not enough hours in the day to get everything you need done. Back in my college days, I remember taking 16 credits one semester, while working 30 hours per week and I definitely felt like that was too much. I always felt stressed out, and I was dying for the semester to end so I can just have one day where I didn’t have to do anything.

I know plenty of people who are in a similar situation, working while going to school full-time, and feeling so burned out makes it hard to maintain a social circle -to do the things we love, stay on top of lectures/assignments, get enough sleep, stay in touch with family, stay fit, keep down a job, and manage every other curveball that life throws at us.

If you have the opportunity to take less credits, I would… it will be a lot easier on you mentally and emotionally. Some people just don’t have that option to lessen their course load if they want to graduate early or on time. If you think you can manage it though, more power to you.

Q. Aunty, what is the meaning of life?


A: Chasing happiness. Personally I think most people just want to feel content; completely satisfied with their lives. Life is what you make of it.

Normally I would be sassy and just say “42.” But I recently came across a story about the origin behind why 42 was chosen for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Apparently 42, in some sort of coding language, actually is shorthand for “whatever you want it to be.” I don’t know if this is accurate or not (truth be told, Aunty was a little buzzed late at night when she was reading this story) but I like to think it is…

Q. Would it be possible to bring the Watershed Natural Resources degree pathway back? Would you recommend making my own degree? Just do agriculture? Or look for another campus?


A: I’d love to be able to answer this for you, but I don’t think I’m the right Aunty for your question. I can, however, direct you to people who might be able to help you. In the CAFNRM I would recommend talking to Dr. Kevin D. Hopkins. I’ve been told that Dr. Hopkins is in charge of the curriculum for CAFNRM, and he might be able to answer your questions about the watershed natural resources degree pathway. To contact Dr. Hopkins, you can call him at (808) 932-7033.

Other good sources to contact are Dr. Yiqing Li at (808) 932-7156 and Dr. Armando García-Ortega at (808) 933-0607. Good luck!