Ask Amy: September 2021

How to Support War Vet Cousin

Dear Amy: Seems like a long time ago, but my cousin served in Afghanistan with Canadian troops in 2010, and it doesn’t seem like a long time ago to her. We talk about it from time to time, and she always struggled with “What was the point?” Now, after the recent debacle, I’m afraid to even talk to her, but I know I need to.

How can I be supportive and explain we appreciate her sacrifice even if it’s hard to say what, in fact, was the point since the whole thing fell apart so fast? How can I be a supportive cousin? How do we support soldiers without necessarily supporting the war?
— War Wondering

Dear Wondering: I think you are doing everything right so far. Just being present and conscious of her struggles is showing her support. Having worked tirelessly in anti-war and coalitions for peace in my early days, I have little experience with soldiers, but I think we can all find a through-line of humanity in the pain of what feels like endless conflict. You’re a kind cousin who cares about your family, and showing up for her with such ongoing empathy will hopefully help her find some peace.

A black woman wearing a mask that says VOTE.

Photo by Johnny Silvercloud/Shutterstock.

Don’t Cop Out On Elections

Dear Amy: Politics is rigged: the majority of Canadians support progressive parties, but the Conservatives always have a chance of getting elected, even if most Canadians are against their selfish approach. We voted last election to have Justin Trudeau fix this; he didn’t, even though he said he would — okay thanks for pot, but come on!

Why should I bother voting when all politicians are liars and they’ll just get validation from us voters and go ahead and do whatever they want, even if they literally said they wouldn’t? Why vote?
— Not voting

Dear Not Voting: If voting was worthless, they wouldn’t be trying to suppress so many votes in America. You are extremely privileged to get a vote. People have fought for the right to vote for centuries and continue to fight for voting rights all over the world. As the actual name of one of my favourite social innovation groups: APATHY IS BORING ( It is working tirelessly to promote being an active citizen and engage youth to help them understand the importance of their votes. GET INVOLVED, challenge your local members of parliament, go deep on who is running and what they stand for, or GO RUN FOR GOVERNMENT! The last thing you should do is withhold your vote because that is just a cop-out.

Play It Safe Or Step Out?

Dear Amy: I am a 20-year-old, relatively shy male student getting ready to go back to university. I am from what gets called “a minority” and, with my parents’ encouragement, have always sought social connection within my community, even dating. But I am troubled by the thought that I am limiting myself and that maybe I should step out and try new experiences. But what if I’m setting myself up for disappointment or, worse, overt or even subtle racism? Should I just “stick to my own kind” this semester or try to expand my horizons? And how?
— Reluctant Reboot

Dear Reluctant: I’m not sure love is that pragmatic. I think there is always fear of rejection when venturing into territories of the heart. Being vulnerable always feels risky, but if you meet the right person, it’s worth it! I think being open to possibilities in the world of love is best. Your instincts will guide you to the good people. Being 20 is hard and complicated! Try not to put too much pressure on what’s the right and wrong thing to do when it comes to finding people you are drawn to, whether in friendships or relationships. Life will unfold in ways that will continue to surprise you.

Love to Write, Hate to Perform

Dear Amy: I have been making music on my laptop for about two years. My laptop seems to like it, but I am so shy about playing my songs for anybody else. I am a teenaged, female-identifying singer-songwriter who writes very personal music, and I just don’t have the courage to play tracks even to friends or family. How did you start to share your music, without being devastated with fear of exposing your most personal thoughts and biggest vulnerabilities? Who knows, maybe I’m good — ultimately you make music to share your gift right?
— No Time for Showtime

Dear Showtime: This is still my struggle! Sharing art that is so personal and playing new songs for anyone else other than your cat is what my friend Ariel Engle in La Force calls “the naked cartwheel.” I don’t think there is any artist out there who doesn’t feel some twinge of worry or some pit of terror — and, in my experience, the utterly confident are usually not as good as the super shy.

Maybe DJ a party and drop your song secretly and see if people react? Play it in the background when you have someone you love and trust over and see if they notice? Or just burst out and play it for your bestie! I’ll tell you one thing: I would LOVE to hear your music. You can always send me an anonymous email to askamy@nextmag. ca. I bet with such raw honesty, you have made some beautiful art.

Amy Millan is a Canadian indie rock singer and guitarist. She records and performs with Stars and Broken Social Scene and has a successful solo career.

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