Between You And Me: Answering Your Problems Part 7
This month, we’re discussing how to deal with competitive friends on social media, redundancy and job hunting in the midst of coronavirus, university nerves, getting back into the dating game when you're a mum and wanting children at different times.
Welcome back to our monthly instalment of Between You & Me, a little nook of the website we’ve created for listening to your life problems, sharing our experiences and nurturing our personal growth together, all with open hearts and open minds.
This month, we’re discussing how to deal with competitive friends on social media, redundancy and job hunting in the midst of coronavirus, university nerves, getting back into the dating game when you’re a mum and wanting children at different times.
Life-giving you way too many lemons right now? Let’s make some lemonade up in here! Send your problems to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer them next month.
First of all, you are certainly not a big black hole of nothingness, you seem like the most caring, compassionate and giving person ever. What it sounds like here, if I use a metaphor; you are constantly making the effort to fill everyone else’s cup from your own, thus leaving yours empty, which you then cannot continue to pour from. I can imagine it feels lonely if you don’t feel as though anyone else can make you feel the way you are able to make others feel. Do your friends or family recognise that you might need that every now and then? If not, I think it’s perfectly okay to ask for it. Friendships are a two-way thing and both should make equal efforts to maintain it. Sometimes people are quick to think the “positive, advice-giving, always there with a helping hand, knows the right things to say” friend is the one who’s always happy, fulfilled and brimming with a zest for life, but that’s not always the case and it might be worth reminding them of that. I’m so sorry you feel this way about yourself too. Sounds like you need to be gentle with yourself and allow yourself a bit of time to recharge your batteries and emotional energy! Do things you enjoy, be around people or places that make you happy, talk to people about how you’re feeling, dip back into the hobby you used to love but don’t have time for anymore. Prioritise how you feel over making sure others are feeling okay! Sending you a huge hug x
Let me just say that you sound like a bloody wonderful human, who’s incredibly willing to be all the things to all the people, so much so that you forget to look out for yourself, which breaks my heart! You mention feeling a sense of loneliness, as though no one is there for you when you need it the most and I wonder if the people in your life assume that you’re the one who’s always doing ok. Right as rain. Tickety-boo! If you’ve taken up this role of being everyone else’s shoulder to cry on, there’s probably a bit of an assumption on their part that you’re bound to be fine because, well, you’re you! You’re the rock. You’re everyone else’s ‘constant’. It sounds like by the time you’re done giving the best of you to please everyone else, there’s nada left for you. You’re so comfortable honouring everyone else and their emotional boundaries that you’re neglecting your own fulfilment. There’s a difference between giving and burning out.
Do some introspection and set some quality time aside for yourself to prioritise your needs. Book a weekend out in your diary to do things that make your heart happy just for the sake of it, either alone or with those people who you know will lift you up. It’s not selfish to practise self-compassion – I think you need to learn to show up for yourself as you do so readily for others and sometimes that means saying no to other things in order to bump yourself up that priority list. The other thing I’d say is don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re struggling, put your hands up and say help a girl out. You are only human and you need people, too. That’s what a healthy relationship and friendship with boundaries is – if you’re happy, they’re happy. Sending you a big squeeze, Lareese xx
Hey Anon, thank you so much for writing in, I’m so sorry to hear about how your year has gone. My mum and a few of my closest friends are cabin crew so I know how hard the travel industry has been hit as well as how stressful and worrying the last few months have been.
Firstly you need to take a deep breathe in and think about this experience differently, obviously, the prospect of losing your job is awful but sometimes it can lead to a new prospect and it can give you the push you need to do something out of your comfort zone that might make you happier.
Sit down with a positive mind frame and start making some good old fashioned lists. What are the parts of your job that you enjoy the most? What are some of the skills you currently use at your job that you think could transfer into other areas? This will help you fine-tune what you’re looking for and will help you craft the best cover letter for any opportunities you find. What else are you interested in? Do you have a hobby or passion that you love to do? Now could be the time to move into a sector that perhaps wouldn’t feel like work at all.
Although you are correct with jobs being thin on the ground in some industries others are booming, are there any UK based travel opportunities you could look in to? Keep your ear to the ground when it comes to different sectors that have seen an uplift in business because of COVID and see if you can get your foot in the door.
A well-written email and cover letter simply asking if a company has any opportunities will do you the world of good.
Also remember the travel industry will bounce back eventually, knowing you could always go back to your old job when the time is right is a positive thought, and who knows if you find something better in the meantime!
Hey lovely! Working in the travel industry at this time is bound to be rocky. I’m so sorry you’re going through the mill with it! Having been made redundant before (albeit kinda out the blue, unlike your situation), I know first-hand how uncertain and terrifying life can feel when your job is taken away from you, through no fault of your own. A huge amount of my sense of purpose and self-worth comes from work, so I totally understand what you’re going through. Given the current climate, the prospect of job hunting is bound to be daunting but I’d say take this time to reflect on what you really want to do next. When I look back and think about being made redundant, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through – I felt totally lost, utterly worthless and well, completely redundant! But hindsight is a wonderful thing and having gone through it and come out the other side, I know there was a lesson in there for me. I wasn’t on the right path, I wasn’t happy in my job, I was commuting 3 hours door-to-door every day, so it was definitely a blessing in disguise, though it didn’t feel like it at the time. While that may not be the case for you as it sounds like you’re in an industry you love, that doesn’t mean you can’t see this as an opportunity to really interrogate your hopes and dreams going forward. What is the lesson in this for you? Had I not been made redundant, I would never have had the push to go freelance and carve a career on my own terms. As for the stress – I think it would be bloody rich for me to say nahh don’t stress hun, because this is a huge life change, you’re going to be stressed so allow yourself the permission to go through the motions with it. Once I’d sat with my feelings for a while I set out a, ‘what’s next for me!’ contingency plan and I was able to be a lot more pragmatic about my approach to job hunting after that. This could be a new beginning as well as the end of something, you know? If you never went into travel, what would you be doing now? What’s the dream? What’s the 5-year-plan? In terms of the job hunt itself, lean on people you know both in the industry and outside of it, nurture those connections, family friends with businesses that are thriving in lockdown. No job is forever, either! After I was made redundant I took a few months out, then got myself an in-betweeny job in a shop to allow me the financial freedom to figure out my next career move. When I started to see this bad news as more of an opportunity than a hindrance, my whole perspective changed. I know that’s not always the case but a lot of good can come out of this period of introspection. I was chatting to my mum the other day and I asked her what her dream job would be… she said, oh, no one has ever asked me that before! Sometimes you just need to sound out your options with other people to figure out how you really feel. Perhaps you take these next few months to update your cv and identify the transferrable skills you can take with you in this next chapter – do all the life admin things you’d normally put on the back burner and send out as many cover letters for potential job roles as possible. And, it’s like Danielle says, the travel sector will bounce back and so will you! Sending you all the posi vibes – let us know how you get on! Lots of love, Lareese xx
This is a really complex issue but I’m so pleased you were able to write in as it sounds like it’s having a major impact on your friendship but through no real fault of your own! Although jealousy can feel like a shameful and embarrassing trait, I don’t think the origins of this feeling are always bad or done with malicious intentions. Whilst it’s extremely frustrating for you, I would hope that your friend is simply not aware of how her actions are impacting your friendship rather than doing anything with the intent of hurting you.
Having said that, it’s something that needs to stop for a happy and healthy friendship to continue, so a conversation needs to be had even if the thought of confrontation makes you anxious.
Do you think it’s social media in particular that brings out this jealous side of her? It sounds like your different Internet usage habits are highlighting this trait, so it might be worth explicitly saying to her that social media isn’t really your bag and you much prefer when you’re able to chat and hang out IRL!
In terms of her making your achievements into a competition, this probably stems from insecurity on her part and a desire to live out the things she can see you doing so well. Depending on what seems to be bothering her, you could always suggest doing some of these things together and bonding over experiences that you can both share. This won’t work in every circumstance, and you should be able to feel you can grow and succeed without any bitterness from her, so if trying to include her more doesn’t work, I think a conversation definitely needs to be had for you to move forward positively.
Along with everything else that’s changed in 2020, friendships have been impacted too, so don’t worry that this bad patch is permanent. Hopefully, some honest conversations and effort from both you and her will put this issue to bed so you can continue your lovely friendship!
Hello! This sounds super frustrating and I totally understand about hating confrontation as I too find it super uncomfortable. One thing to remember though is that as we grow and change, we will find ourselves having to jump a few hurdles to keep friendships close and adapt those friendships as we grow as people. It’s healthy to have conversations with your best friend when something is upsetting you, in order for you both to grow closer and close that issue and move forward. It definitely doesn’t need to end in an argument but it’s clear you value her as this is upsetting you so it’s definitely worth bringing up with her. A couple of suggestions: Possibly think about writing her a letter if face to face feels a little daunting. Ensure that however you decide to speak with her whether that’s face to face or written, you need to be in a calm and collected mood, do not spark a conversation off the back of feeling frustrated at her. Remind her that it’s coming from a place of love and that you just want to resolve it as it’s upsetting you. You never know, something could be troubling her too which might be where her different behaviour is coming from. It could be something much deeper that the two of you can chat about together. If once you speak with her she doesn’t acknowledge how you feel, give her a bit of space but never allow her to make you feel rubbish! Good luck! xx
Hey Anon, firstly congratulations for getting into Uni and deciding this is the year to head off! It’s a massive feat and one that people often take for granted. It’s probably useful to know that EVERYONE heading to a new city for Uni is feeling nervous about making friends believe me! You’re in the same boat as a lot of people and you are not alone. My biggest piece of advice is Be Yourself. Simple but effective, don’t try to fit in, don’t do things that aren’t up your street to please others, just be honest, open and unequivocally you and you’ll attract your people. Try not to overthink social interactions as this can sometimes be my downfall. If you know where you are staying there are sometimes FB groups where you can chat to people you’ll be living with, this could ease your anxiety as you’ll be heading there already knowing a few people.
Don’t worry about finding some elusive ‘forever friends’ in your halls or course, sometimes you have to ‘kiss a lot of frogs’ before you find people you vibe with but going out of your comfort zone like this is such a fantastic opportunity and will help you build confidence for the rest of your life! It’s so easy for me to say “don’t worry about this or that” as it’s much easier said than done and of course you’re going to be worrying, I guess my main takeaway is too take it easy, and keep reminding yourself that everyone else is worried and anxious too!
Firstly, congrats on getting into Uni, as scary as it seems now the best years of your life are ahead of you! Also, I really admire your courage going to Uni after having some difficult years with mental illness and shielding in the pandemic, I think you are braver than you think you are!
Starting Uni is scary for everyone and I can guarantee you won’t be alone; everyone is in the same boat and will be wanting to be social and find people they click with. Meeting new people at Uni is probably the best part, I finished Uni last year and I made friends for life! Moving away from home can be really daunting and I totally get the anxiety around that, I moved all the way to Sheffield from Brighton when I started Uni and I was so worried about missing my family, friends and home city. But really, Uni will become home and once it finishes you won’t want to leave!
One tip to feel comfortable and at home is to make your room as nice as possible! In my first year I hesitated to decorate my room that much and adding personal touches, but I think it feeling like your space is so important. Go all out with the personal touches and you’ll feel way more at home. Step out of your comfort zone and get socialising with flatmates and course mates (especially if you don’t like your flatmates much haha), the first week of Uni you feel like you meet SO many people but it’s a great way to feel more comfortable too, knowing you have people you can message and hang out with.
The first few weeks might feel a bit uneasy at times as you adjust, but Uni is such a great experience and I truly think you will have an amazing time. Embrace the experience and just be yourself, that’s all you can do!
Good luck with everything in the future.
I think the fact that you’re so concerned and empathetic in thinking about how best to support your pal is the first step in the right direction. You’re right that the subject of eating disorders can be an extremely sensitive one, and you considering the best route to help your friend without being invasive will go such a long way. Personally, when I’m dealing with a low period of mental health, it’s very easy for me to withdraw from everything and get caught up in my head. I’ll often not reply to messages or get overwhelmed at the thought of having to explain how I’m feeling to family/friends which makes me withdraw more! So whilst it might feel pushy to double text or give your friend a call, I think sometimes having people that pass no judgement at their sporadic communication and keep going in checking in is so important. Knowing that you’re there for her always might be the reassurance she needs that her worries aren’t ‘too much’ and that she can rely on you.
Perhaps the regularity and set time of her CAMHS appointments might be a good time to check in with her? If she mentions to you when these appointments are, a ‘good luck’ or ‘hope it goes well’ message beforehand could be so reassuring, as is a ‘you did it!’ message afterwards. Hopefully, your willingness to talk about these meetings and genuine interest in how she’s doing will prompt her to open up to you if she wants, safe in the knowledge that she has you to fall back on as and when she needs.
As you mentioned, it’s definitely a difficult topic for her to be forthcoming with, so as well as addressing it and not treating it like the elephant in the room, I think more than anything she would want your relationship to remain the same and have a sense of familiarity to it. Keep suggesting the ‘normal’ things you guys enjoy doing together, as I’m sure some escapism and distraction from everything else that’s going on in her life would be so welcome. If you’re worried about being pushy or putting her in an uncomfortable position when socialising, maybe send some options ahead of time and see what she fancies! Letting her take the lead will help prevent her from feeling trapped and stop you from worrying about pushing her out of her comfort zone. Some suggestions like a picnic, walk in the park, road trip, shopping day or lunch out might be good places to start.
Best of luck to you both, and remember to look after yourself and keep your mental health in check too- you deserve to treat yourself with the same kindness and care you reserve for others.
You are such a kind friend for reaching out for some guidance and she is really lucky to have a friend like you. I think sometimes there isn’t a right or wrong answer, or a guidebook on how to approach difficult situations like this.
For your friend, she probably just wants her friend and some normality. I think approach her as you usually would, message her about the things you normally chat about and I think she’ll really appreciate the normality. Sometimes when someone is going through a hard time, people constantly asking them how they are doing can be a bit overwhelming and a reminder of the difficulties they are facing.
But of course, you still want to make sure she is doing okay with her recovery and mentally doing well too. I think you just being around and telling her you are here for her; she will come to you if she is feeling low or struggling. It can be really easy for people to close up and to shut people out when they are having a hard time, so treading slowly and kindly is always the best way to not overwhelm someone.
Just let your friend know that you are here for her every step of the way, through the bad and the good, that you are here if she ever needs to vent or express how she’s feeling. Really that’s all you can really do is just be there for her. Invite her out to do whatever you usually do for fun and just be a good distraction for her, that she will more than likely really appreciate.
You are an amazing friend and things will get easier for your friend. Make sure to not overwhelm yourself too as your mental health is just as important and so remember to take care of it. Best of luck to you both Xx
Hi and thank you for writing into us, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been feeling lonely lately. Depression and mental health statistics have more than doubled since before lockdown so I really hope that you’re speaking to your friends and family about how you’re feeling and if you’re ever feeling down are reaching out for support. Firstly congratulations on raising two teenagers by yourself, the phrase “it takes a village” comes from the days where new mothers would live with their mums, aunties and grandparents so raising children really was a shared family task. Doing it by yourself is a huge achievement and I can only imagine how hard it must have been at times. It’s so exciting that you feel ready to meet someone new, I’m a firm believer that you can start over and find love at any age. In the Zoella book club, we recently read a book called “The Switch” which features an 80 year old trying online dating for the first time in a quest to find adventure and love. It was brilliant and a great example of how putting yourself out there can have amazing results. It seems like an obvious one but have you tried online dating? It’s where I met my husband and where 90% of new relationships I know have started, it’s a great tool to meet new people and is the perfect first step to dating again. It’s also a great way to build confidence speaking to new people and you can dip your toe in slowly and at your own pace. Good luck and most of all have fun! Some of the most fun times in my life were when I was newly dating, they weren’t all successful dates mind you but they made for some great stories with my girlfriends over wine at the weekend!
Hey, thank you for sharing this with us, it’s never easy to open up particularly when it comes to talking about feeling lonely or wanting to meet someone new. I feel like it’s such a taboo subject, particularly among women in their 30s – social conditioning tells us we should have all it all figured out by now but life almost never happens like that! I’m not a mum but I can only imagine how much having children takes over your whole life – they become your priority and I think a lot of mums I know grapple with who they are outside of motherhood, so good for you for acknowledging your needs and exploring the idea of dating again. Now your kids are teens and getting more independent, it’s the perfect time to start focusing on you! One of the good things to come out of lockdown is the virtual dating boom. Embrace it, dip your toes in the water and start connecting with potential love interests. Holy mackerel, I sound like an 80-year-old, love interests? Who says that, haha! But seriously, online dating gives you the freedom to make genuine romantic connections with people on your terms, at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home (while wearing your comfy pjs – winning). Getting to know someone online before meeting them IRL and making any real commitments gives you the chance to see if there’s any real chemistry there. Should you decide to meet up when the time’s right, you’ll already have plenty to talk about which will do wonders for your confidence and help get rid of those first date nerves. Also, let yourself live! You’ve spent the last few years throwing yourself into motherhood, this is your time to have fun and that’s so empowering and exciting. You don’t have to fall in love with them, (I mean, bloody brilliant if you do) but you’re allowed to enjoy the rush of harmless flirting again without the pressure of finding The One. This is such an exciting time for you so try and enjoy every moment. Go get ’em TIGER. Lots of love, Lareese xx
Hey Anon, Thanks so much for writing in and being so open, I think a lot of women probably find themselves in a similar situation, as women do tend to be ready before their partner when it comes to having kids. Let’s look at the positives; you’ve already met the man of your dreams and are married, he loves you very much and does want kids too, you have (by the sounds of it) lots of nieces and nephews in the family to love and cherish. When it comes to having kids it’s a two-way street, and while I know there are women that are born wanting to be a mother it’s not fair to jump the gun and pressure your other half into taking that leap before they are ready. If you have them too soon and your partner feels like they didn’t do some of the things they wanted to before children he may end up resenting you later on in life, you both have to be on the same page and respect each other’s decisions, that’s what marriage is all about. It’s tough when you feel like you’re missing out and as you have older siblings I’m sure you want kids of a similar age, but patience is a virtue in this situation, so while you’re waiting try and be the best fun aunty you can be before you have to devote your time to your own. I’m sure you talk about it with your partner a lot but instead of it feeling you’re nagging him, just make him aware of some of your feelings, of why you want children now, your emptiness and you’re upset, not to make him feel guilty, but so he knows what kind of headspace you’re in. Maybe see if you can come up with a plan together of when could be a good year to go for it, and what he’d like to achieve or do before having children. Of course, plans like this sometimes go off-piste, but it may put your mind at ease! Hang in there anon, you’re young and happy and will get your chance to be a wonderful mother one day.
Hi and thanks so much for sharing your worries with us. I think it’s natural in a couple that you’re not always going to be ready for certain big next steps at the same time, being married doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be immediately synced up for what comes next and it’s all about compromise and understanding. The important thing is you continue to communicate how you’re feeling with your husband and listen to each other. Having children is a huge decision and commitment and it really does need both parties to be fully on board because it’s completely life-changing. It would be far worse in my opinion if your partner wasn’t honest with you and realised too late that he’s not ready to be a father. I know it’s hard but try and be patient, you have so much time and life ahead of you, use this time to enjoy one another while it’s just the two of you and you have the freedom to be selfish. My advice on how to be patient would be to try and find something else to fulfil that desire for something new and the next step, whether that’s a career advancement, travelling (when it’s safe to do so), taking on a new hobby or sport, getting a pet, moving house or renovating, starting a business or donating your time to a cause that means something to you. What’s great is that he does want children so your time will come and it will be so worth the wait.