The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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COLUMN: Dear Aunt T, who is that lady?


I am going to let you in on a little secret: I’m over 40, earning my MA from EIU remotely (sadly, nowhere near the campus), and I have not told my family I am starting this column.

What if this flops? What if the young peeps hate me? What if… the list could go on. I have a laundry list of irrational fears about rejection, failure, and life’s uncertainties.

My motivation in starting this column came from one of my students – did I mention I teach high school English? Oh yeah, I do that too. Let us call this student, G.

Well, one day, we were chatting about hopes and dreams, and they asked mine. I confessed I want to be a writer (yes, like the ones you imagine shacked up in a cabin in the mountains with a couple of dogs and a roaring fire and maybe a tumbler of Scotch – except I hate Scotch, so I’ll have an Amaretto Sour instead).

“You could still do that, Ms. T,” they said in the oldest, wisest, and most sincere voice I’d ever heard come from a 17 year old.

“You could also be a philosopher or a therapist though. You have interesting takes on things, give good advice, and tell it like it is.” That conversation gave me just the right amount of confidence to try for real.

It let me know I was not too old to go back to school and earn my masters in English. It also set the foundation to start this column.

My hope is that you – The News readers, students, and future badasses (I’m allowed to say that, right?) – will feel comfortable enough to use this advice column as a safe place to ask anonymous questions (perhaps one’s you are too scared to ask your parents or professors or even your friends).

You can ask me anything. Life. Grades. Drugs. Finances. Careers.Friendships. Dating. Sex. Fears. Anxieties. Depression. Parents.

Anything, really. Except if it relates to technology or math or statistics. These are my kryptonite (my eyes glaze over during any discussion remotely related to these topics and I use such moments to daydream about unrelated things like my garden, a trip to the spa, or what is for dinner?).

Otherwise, most everything else is fair game.

Now, please note, I am not a licensed therapist, I cannot give you medical counsel or mental health diagnosis, and I will not be able to live your life for you or promise my advice is the be all/end all that will save you from impending doom.

But I am here: Aunt T, at your service and accepting your questions at the time of this publication.

In the meantime, here’s a little backstory about me. I’m originally from Illinois (outside of Bloomington-Normal), went to Millikin University in Decatur during my first year of college, transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduated in 2002, moved to Los Angeles, worked in the music biz for nearly a decade.

Then I switched careers to health and wellness (massage therapy, mainly), moved to Nashville for a year, then moved to Colorado, have juggled a variety of other side hustles aside from massage (freelance, food brokering, bookkeeping, childbirth
education, midwife assistant – there’s more but not enough room in this posting!).

Then I stumbled upon teaching by accident in the fall of 2022, have 3 kids, 2 dogs, a husband, and am terrified of snakes – as in, my children know if we were in the wild and came across one, it’s highly likely I will blackout and sacrifice one of them to run for cover.

So, whatcha got for ol’ Aunt T? The semester is young…let us get this column/party started!

Tera Johnson-Swartz can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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About the Contributor
Tera Johnson-Swartz, Advice Columnist
Tera Johnson-Swartz is a graduate student studying English. This is her first year at The News.

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