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Summary of Question:Feeling Guilty, And Stressed
Date Posted:Tuesday, 1/12/2010 7:05 PM MST


My question is not really about Sikhism, but more about morals and ethics. I am a pre-med University student in a very competitive environment. The best way to describe my issue would be to use an example. Throughout my University experience I have realized that other students tend to use you for their own benefits. One example is when we have an assignment due I start a few weeks before the deadline and work really hard. I put the time and effort into my work, but some of my friends they start the day before and constantly bug me for the answers. Sometimes I pretend I don’t know the answers because I get so tired of them wanting all the answers from me. Then I feel guilty because first of all I am lying to them and secondly because I didn’t help them. I don’t want to confront them because I feel it might strain our friendship. Sometime I come home really upset about it and then I take my anger out on my family. I don’t know what do; I would really appreciate some advice.


Sat Nam,
The real issue here is of boundary. There is a very healthy way of maintaining your boundaries without having to yourself into a frustrating situation.
You have to figure out what works best but here are some suggestions.
Have a friendly conversation with your friends about your personal policy on giving people the answers. Find a time to do it when there are no deadlines insight and no one is frustrated about getting the answers out of you. Tell them how that makes you feel and why. Let them know that they can rely on you for many different things but not this kind of school work. In other words have a moment of full disclosure from your side. Explain to them your believes about the situation in a very nonviolent constructive way.

You never have to tell them what they are doing wrong and how they need to fix it, but you can tell them that you would like to organize a study group a week before the project is due so everyone can benefit and there will be plenty of time to finish it. And whether they participate in the study group or not it is now their full responsibility on how they perform not yours. It will also help them compare on how much effort they need to be actually putting into their studies.
When I have participated in study groups like that the rule of the game always was for everyone to come prepared and to study as much as they can so they can contribute to the group. Then we all tested each other and helped each other figure out some issues that someone did not quite get. It was a team effort and even the best of students benefited from what other people had to add to the circle.

There are other ways of maintaining boundaries without hurting anyone but most important concept to understand here is that you have to make yourself absolutely clear so there are no false expectations.

Good Luck,

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