Between You And Me: Answering Your Problems Part 8
This month, we’re discussing how to ride solo after a breakup, pushing through those frustrating creative blocks and presentation anxiety, aka Glossophobia. It’s a thing that affects around a whopping 75% of us!
We’re back for another juicy round of Between You & Me, the feature dedicated to helping you navigate life’s many, many predicaments.
This month, we’re discussing how to ride solo after a breakup, pushing through those frustrating creative blocks and presentation anxiety, aka Glossophobia. It’s a thing that affects around a whopping 75% of us!
We’re also tackling social distancing dating dilemmas, coming out to the grandparents, how to be there for a bezzie pal with cold feet and losing friends to serious relationships.
Is life serving you one too many lemons at the mo? Send your problems to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer them next time round.
Until then, grab yourself a brew & settle down with us, your in-house agony aunts!
Thank you for writing in to us, your dilemma really resonated with me because I too struggle with creative droughts more often than I’d like, and even though I’m aware it comes with the territory, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when all you want to do is do the thing you love and that you’re good at! The thing I’ve found most useful whenever I’m feeling creatively spent is to stop trying to force it.
Try to distance yourself from your work by doing something completely different – swimming, walking and listening to a podcast, meditating, whatever will help you mentally and physically step away from your work and your creativity. It’s not always easy because of that pressure to keep thinking of ideas & creating, but sometimes the best thing you can do to maintain the work you love and preserve your passion for it is simply to stop doing it. Just take a break and breathe for a minute; disconnect to reconnect.
Creativity isn’t always a comfortable pursuit. It can be intense, frustrating and mentally draining. It takes up a lot of energy and demands focus, so if you’ve got a lot going on elsewhere in your life between your part-time job and preparing yourself for uni, you might not be in the right mindset to sit and write or paint right now. I’d say that having some routine and establishing some healthy work habits can really help, too. When do you feel most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Rather than trying to squeeze in a quick writing session or sitting down to work on some art before rushing off to your job, set aside some uninterrupted time to tend to your creativity. Pay attention to the things that you know make your creativity thrive.
Our best ideas often come to us as the most random of times, so use the notes section in your phone to write down any ideas that come to you organically when you’re not trying to force them or keep a notepad/sketchbook next to your bed. Lastly, I’d say look at your workspace – can you do anything to shake it up a bit and make it a space you want to spend time in (preferably near a window – that always helps me write!) You’ll push through it don’t you worry. Good luck, lovely!
As a creative myself, I know exactly how you feel and it can be the most frustrating feeling ever. A few things I always find help clear my mind and strike up some creativity are making sure I’m well-rested and focusing on myself more. Wellness and self-care are so important for our minds and bodies and sometimes if I’m not looking after myself, my mind goes to complete mush and I’m lucky if I can even string a sentence together let alone feel inspired to create something. Forcing creativity is also something that just doesn’t seem to work for me. I have to be in the right headspace and trying to force it usually ends in more frustration and comparison amongst my peers who are all out doing cool things which instantly highlights the fact I feel like I’m not. Be gentle with yourself and create some space to let it happen naturally. Try doing a few new things, go on walks, meet with friends, watch new films. Sometimes it’s easier to feel inspired when we’re just living our lives and experiencing new things as we do it! Good Luck! x
Thank you so much for writing in and sorry to hear your friend is having such a tough time!
A 10 year age gap is quite a significant one, but I assume when she entered into the relationship she would have been aware that there may be some differences in how their paths would align and differences in their individual wants and needs. I wonder therefore whether she has ever previously mentioned feeling that the relationship has moved too quickly or that she was feeling out of her depth? When you love someone I think it’s natural to want to slightly mould yourself a little to them in the hopes of making everything ‘perfect’, and perhaps she has prioritised his needs above hers and is only now realising that this feels inauthentic.
I think there are probably a few ways you could drop the subject into conversation without it seeming too suspicious- maybe next time wedding chat comes up ask how she’s finding it all, and if she responds negatively then maybe subtly pursue it and ask if she needs any help or if there’s something in particular she’s not enjoying.
It sounds promising that she has noticed this change in her mood, as at least she has some awareness of not feeling herself. Perhaps this is another relatively easy way to get the lowdown on what’s going on- maybe try texting her after the next time you meet and just ask if there’s anything you can help support her with if she doesn’t seem okay. As a genuine friend with really kind intentions, I don’t think there’s a way she could take this negatively and means you don’t have to directly mention the wedding- hopefully she might offer up some truths if you leave the floor open for her to be honest in a supportive environment. Are you guys part of a bigger friendship group or do you have any mutual friends you could confide in and see what their point of view is? Perhaps you could glean something from these conversations and share your concerns in confidence, as long as you can guarantee it won’t make it back to her.
Although it probably feels extremely frustrating to let her go ahead with this big life change that she doesn’t seem fully confident in, ultimately it will be her decision and one you will have to stand by and support as a friend. As long as you feel you have genuinely tried to be there for her and keep her best interests at heart I think that’s all you can really ever do!
Hi Anon, thank you for writing in and well done for being such a concerned friend! There’s a couple of strains of thought here, the first being a little more chill and non-problematic which is that there is a big difference between a wedding and getting married. What I mean by that is someone might be super excited to be married to their partner and spend the rest of their life with them, but planning an actual wedding can be really stressful and nerve inducing! Take it from a gal who hated planning a wedding this year and was actually pleased when I had to call the whole thing off. Maybe your friend is just over the constant wedding chat or is feeling extremely nervous for the day making her pull back a bit?
On the other hand, there were a few things you mentioned that we’re a little concerning for me, obviously, I am no one to judge and I don’t even know your friend or her partner, but a ten year age gap when someone is 18, is a little alarming, especially when they are already getting married when she is 21. Maybe try and approach her about the fact she’s feeling low, see if she’ll open up to you about her mental health, and less about her relationship as I’d imagine she might have had to defend it on a few occasions. As a good friend try to remind how much you are there for her and try and cheer her up any way you can, she could be going through something and the more she’s aware she has people around her who love her unconditionally the better. <3
I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a separation. Sometimes, doing the right thing definitely doesn’t mean doing the easy thing but it sounds like you’re confident in your decision and I’m sure that will serve you well further down the line, as you make peace with the end of that relationship and begin this next chapter of your life.
I know it’s a big fat cliché but time is your healing friend. Whenever we go through any kind of hardship whether it be grief, a breakup or a period of upheaval, it’s going to take some time to adjust. Yes, you made the decision to separate but that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to go through the motions. Breakups are messy, hard and complicated beasts, no matter how ‘ready’ you were to make that decision. I wish there was a fast-track course you could take to get you to that happy place asap but it’s just one of those things that takes time and patience. This new chapter of your life is going to feel just that: new, different, daunting even, and that’s ok. You will get there in time and you’ll learn to love the freedom that comes with starfishing in your bed, having a bloody good shag no string attached (when you’re ready of that!) and answering only to yourself. Often when we’re in relationships, we can neglect the things that make us happy so spend a bit of time reconnecting with the things in life that bring you pure joy. Be selfish for a while! This is YOUR time. Make loads of plans, book dinners out with your friends instead of dreading eating alone, stay busy, say yes to anything you would have previously said no to because you were in a committed relationship and had to plan your weekends around someone else.
It’s certainly not an easy process but be patient with your emotions and feel every part of it. This isn’t a step you can skip or rush and actually turning up and being present with your feelings of loneliness is an achievement in itself. Even if it doesn’t feel like you’re truly living at the moment, life is happening right now in this little stop-gap; don’t wish it away or try to get away from it. Everything you’re feeling right now is preparing you for this onward journey and what’s next for you. Sending you love!
I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through such a big life change and upheaval at the moment- even when it’s your decision it still rocks the boat and can feel so overwhelming. I have recently come out of a 5-year relationship and have also never been an adult without him by my side so I understand how you feel 10000%. Lockdown has been an incredibly isolating time in general, and I imagine the feelings you’re experiencing now might be intensified by the underlying emotions of the lack of connection and yearning for ‘normality’ that we’re all seeking. 2020 is a challenging ol’ year for every part of life so please don’t be too hard on yourself during this adjustment period.
I think it’s important to recognise and accept that things probably won’t feel normal or good or safe for a while, but that’s okay. Even if a relationship has its bad parts, it is SO normal to look back and miss the little things that once felt like second nature. But make sure to remind yourself of the reason for the split and how prioritising your happiness long term will always be more important and valuable than the temporary discomfort in spending time alone. Some of us are sociable and outgoing people by nature and having ‘your person’ by your side is such a comfort, but you were an individual before this relationship and will be an individual on the other side too- you just need to reconnect with the idea that you are your own biggest priority and getting to know you for who you really are on your own takes time.
Something that’s been difficult for me but so necessary has been seeing as many friends and family as possible (in a socially distanced environment) to act a distraction. My dad stayed with me during the first weekend that it happened so I didn’t have time to rehash the same thought processes 200 times, and since then I’ve just had to throw myself into seeing friends or working to keep my mind as busy as possible. Even if you see a friend and all you do is cry or sit in silence and watch a film, having the presence of someone else around you will be so comforting. It’s not a permanent solution, but is there someone in your life that might be able to stay with you for a while or be on hand when you really need another presence in the house? Eventually, you will find you need them less and less, but adapting to the idea of being alone is so hard, and I recommend getting all the help you possibly can from loved ones to make it as bearable as possible.
I’ve also gone back and forth over the idea of a rebound but it’s so hard to judge what might help vs what may leave you feeling worse. I would say there are probably healthier coping mechanisms you could use in this scenario that wouldn’t result in the same potential emotional effect this may have on you, but everyone is so different and perhaps being surrounded by others in this way will quash the loneliness until you’re able to confidently spend time alone with yourself.
No one is expecting you to be okay in this scenario right away, so please give yourself the time you need to go through the stages of grief that come from someone exiting your life. Reaffirm to yourself daily (or even hourly if needs be!) that these feelings are temporary, however overwhelming they may feel now. Humans are creators of habit and disruption to your routine in any context throws many of us off balance, the key is to trust that you will find a new normal that will eventually serve you better than a relationship which isn’t right.
Best of luck and sending so much love your way xxx
Thank you for having the courage to send your question in. I’m so sorry you’re going through such a rubbish breakup. I’ve been there and it really is so horrible to be left with unanswered questions and emotions for a person who’s no longer willing to take part in the conversation. Firstly can I just say how awful it is that not only you were dumped by text after two years together but on your anniversary too. What a douchebag. I’m sure you’ve been told this by all of the people who love you but please trust me, you deserve SO much better than that. No matter what his reasons were he took the cowards way out and it sounds like he has a lot of growing up to do. I know the saying goes “distance makes the heart grow fonder” however in my experience it can actually do quite the opposite for some people. Some, unfortunately, choose the “out of sight, out of mind” approach and it sounds like the amount of physical distance you had in your relationship potentially contributed to it ending the way it did. It sounds like your ex is moving on and as hard as it is when you feel so hurt and confused by what happened my advice is for you to try to do the same. It doesn’t sound like you’re going to get anything productive out of him or that he’s going to say anything that’s going to make you feel better. This is not your fault and with time you will start to forget about him and feel so much better off, trust me. If he didn’t have the respect for you to communicate how he was feeling and end things like a mature adult then you really shouldn’t waste any more of your precious time thinking about him. I know it’s so much easier said than done but i assure you there will be a man out there who treats you a million times better in the future and you will realise this had nothing to do with you and everything to do with him. I hope that helps and that you feel better really soon xx.
UGH. I feel the frustration of this situation even just from reading your dilemma. I’ve just come out of a 5-year relationship which ended not by my choice so I completely understand where you’re coming from in feeling hurt and disrespected- it’s so hard to come to terms with but I hope it helps knowing there are lots of us in the same boat riding out this horrible wave together.
My break up is very fresh but from my experience, trying to get answers has only ended in tears (mine). It could be that your ex is being shady to cover his own back, or it could be that he thinks the explanation or reasoning would hurt you more if he told you the truth. I suppose in some ways it might be nice to know the whole story and to stop your mind running away with you, but maybe consider what answer you would be hoping for and if that would actually make you feel any better in the long run. My ex has been really unwilling to communicate too and I think sometimes leaving the situation rather than continuing in the pursuit of answers that aren’t going to come is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Be the bigger and more mature person and try to accept that he doesn’t deserve how kind, compassionate and measured you are when he is behaving in the opposite fashion.
After the grieving period (which will take time but I promise will come), you will find a new sense of self-love that I hope will affirm to you that you deserve SO much better. Closure is hard to come by, but from my experience, even the process of chasing for answers and having some idea of the reasoning hasn’t provided any closure because it’s still far too raw. I think closure is something that comes with time and a feeling you find within yourself and not from someone else- especially someone who doesn’t deserve any more of your time or care.
I’ve started writing down my feelings in the notes on my phone or even sending the emotional/angry/sad messages I want to send to my ex to friends instead. I think in the long run you will appreciate a clean break rather than muddying the waters with more contact and opening the wound to more hurt. I know it feels so unfair but I think focusing on the future rather than the confusion of the past will pave the way for you to be much happier.
I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this but please know you will be stronger, happier and more resilient as a result and you have a wonderfully bright future ahead of you. Sending so much love!
COVID is a super tricky time for everyone and I can understand why it’s so frustrating not being able to stay at your boyfriend’s house or see him as often as you would like. Especially as you moved into this new flat as lockdown began, it’s a lot of new things to deal with!
Now, this is tricky with your flatmates, as I can see from their point of view, but I can also see the situation from yours too. I understand your flatmates not wanting you to stay at your boyfriend’s, especially if they don’t know him and therefore don’t know who else he is mixing with. I think many people in relationships are facing this same battle of not living with their partners and therefore not being able to stay overnight with them.
However, I think it’s unfair for your flatmates to say categorically you cannot meet with him at all, as I am sure they are all meeting their friends still whether that’s outside or inside. Now I know as you are in a relationship, they are probably worried about the physical contact side; kissing, hugging, etc. But not allowing you to see him at all is unrealistic and not considering your feelings too.
I think you should ask to sit down with them and have a proper chat with them about it all and find some sort of compromise. Living in a hostile environment is the last thing you want so I think just ignoring their feelings and staying at his could end badly, however as your flatmates I don’t think they have the right to dictate your relationship so closely.
Maybe suggest that you won’t stay at his until things get better with COVID, but that you will still be meeting him outside or in controlled environments (restaurants, pubs, cinemas, etc) as it is unfair that you cannot see your partner at all. Assure them again that you will be socially distancing and that you understand their feelings towards it too and therefore want to find a happy medium.
I hope that helps! xxx
I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I feel like COVID is such a weird and unprecedented situation that none of us is an expert in! Basically I think you should just focus on you and what you want to do as long as you’re not breaking the rules. At the moment you are more than welcome to see your BF as long as there isn’t more than 5 of him, ha! A lot of people have A LOT of opinions and usually, they’re coming from a place of fear. No one has the answers but as long as you’re being respectful enough your friends need to just understand that there are four of you living together with different lives and you can’t be scared to go out and see others forever. The more you see him the more they’ll just have to get used to it. Fingers crossed they get over it (and themselves) and it doesn’t ruin your friendship, and if it does they’re not friends worth keeping anyway.
Firstly, does anyone actually enjoy presentations? Show of hands… I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say they are a horrendous and pointless form of human suffering, haha. So, you’re definitely not alone! I guess that in itself should put your mind at rest a little bit – knowing that everyone else is just as nervous as you are.
I remember doing a presentation at uni and coming out in an awful stress rash all up my neck and over my chest. It’s still etched in my memory now. For as long as I can remember I have absolutely hated presentations and I can’t really put my finger on why that is. I think it’s the thought of taking charge of a room and commanding an audience. Like you, I’d be completely comfortable chatting with a big friendship group or networking with strangers at an event but when it comes to public speaking, I just freeze. I think we tend to get wrapped up in what everyone’s thinking of us when we’re stood up the front, when in reality, they’re probably not even listening at all, let’s be real here.
There are a few practical things you can do to help prepare your body and mind for a presentation. Primarily, rehearsing your script and knowing your subject well will give you the best possible chance of smashing your presentation. Having an outline to follow and fall back on will help you stay on track if you suddenly lose focus or feel overwhelmed. Speaking to yourself in the mirror or recording your presentation on your phone can also really help get you used to hearing your ‘presenting’ voice. The more prepared you are, the more in control and confident you’ll feel on the day. Visit the classroom you’ll be presenting in for a run-through beforehand if possible, this will eliminate any fears about where to stand, where you can plug your laptop in if you’re delivering a PowerPoint presentation or even where to put your water. Lots of people say picturing the audience naked helps… (or other visualisation techniques) – it helps you to get out of your own head. You can also try exercising before your presentation whether that’s a gentle jog or some stretches and breathing techniques to ease the tension in your body. Someone else also told me to wear a hairband on my wrist to flick beforehand, apparently, it helps to take away any tension or nervous energy!
If it’s something you continue to struggle with, you can also look for short-term therapy such as CBT to help you learn how to manage and reduce your anxiety. Good luck lovely – you can do this! xx
You are certainly not alone in hating presentations; I think many people find them really stressful or anxiety-inducing. Even your classmates who look as cool as a cucumber up there presenting, I’m sure if you asked them how they felt, many would say they felt anxious or worried when presenting to the class.
I remember at University hating presenting, I found them really stressful and would get waves of anxiety before presenting, my hands would shake, and I would catastrophise, envisioning all of the ways it could go wrong. When I actually got up to present, I would feel my voice wobble and see my hands shaking and think “everyone can see how nervous I am this is a disaster”. But when I asked my fellow classmates “could you tell I was nervous” every time they would say no and I would still get good marks, so something must have been going right!
Anxiety is a healthy emotion and it can show that we care too, so your anxiety around presenting is probably partly because you want to do well. However, if it begins to stop you presenting at all due to the utter fear you feel, that’s when you might want to look into CBT to break down why you feel so scared about presenting.
I felt the exact same as you and although I have anxiety around presenting, these little things have helped me feel more comfortable beforehand and while presenting. Firstly; practice, practice and practice! Knowing your presentation inside and out will make you feel way more confident. Practice it in front of friends and family, in your mirror, to your pet dog. The better you know it, the better you will feel. Making little cards too which prompt you on what to say are great, keynote is fabulous if you have an iPhone and its compatible with your school’s software as it allows you to make notes which you can read off of your phone will presenting. If not little notes on pieces of card is just as good! I also would practice my breathing beforehand, breathe in for 6, and out for 6, this will help regulate your breathing and reduce anxiety.
You are going to smash this year at school and please don’t worry that your fear of presenting could hold you back, I promise you it won’t. Presenting will get easier the more you practice and if it doesn’t you have options to help you overcome that fear. Wishing you all the best in the future! xxx
Hey Anon, thanks so much writing in with this, I’m so sorry you’re going through this and feel like you’ve lost such a close friend. I feel like one of the areas we’re still super behind on is male and female friendships. Obviously, I understand the complications and the jealousy aspect but it’s interesting how much more acceptable same-sex friendships, then friendships with two people from different sexes especially if they’re both straight. There is a lot of different angles here including your partner’s, your friend’s, and your friend’s girlfriend, and if I’m honest I can kind of see everyone’s point of view. It’s a shame your ‘ex’s’ new girlfriend is being so strict about him cutting ties with you to the extent she has, and if I’m honest the lack of trust there is a massive red flag but essentially that’s none of our business. Unfortunately, he has decided to pick her over you, and the best thing for you to do at this point is to be patient and hope that he comes to his senses, OR she feels comfortable enough in the future to let him have a relationship with you. As he’s such a good friend I would just have to respect his decision and give the situation some space as hard as that sounds. Good luck! x
Well, this ROYALLY SUCKS. As an outsider looking in, I can see that this is such a complex situation for all involved and there are certainly a lot of feelings flying about. Unfortunately, a lot of situations similar to that of you and your best friend are really romanticised in films and tv series. “BOY MEETS GIRL, THEY BECOME FRIENDS, THEY BECOME MORE, IT DOESN’T WORK. THEY SPLIT. THEY’RE FRIENDS AGAIN. REPEAT”, however, they usually continue to have feelings for each other (Ross & Rachel, Marianne and Connell) and it’s not that often that heterosexual male and female friendships are portrayed as anything else. This is a shame, and something I’d love to see more of on my tv screen! I don’t know why your friend’s girlfriend doesn’t trust him, which if I was him would be a serious red flag at the beginning of the relationship, but it’s unfair that it has meant you can’t continue to be friends. All he can really do is show her that there is nothing to be worried about, although it doesn’t sound like he was really given that opportunity which is a shame. It really shouldn’t make any difference that your friendship is not a same-sex one! All you can really do at this point is sit back and hope that your friend has a good long hard think about where his loyalty lies and that eventually he misses your friendship and comes running. (although I wouldn’t suggest waiting with open arms, he will certainly owe you an explanation as the trust between you both has also been shattered somewhat) Don’t let this be a reflection on you as a friend though, this is someone else’s insecurities being projected onto you. Go and live your best life with your other friends who appreciate you and love you! Good Luck!! x
Thanks so much for writing in to us, I’m really sorry to hear your relationship with your grandma is being affected because of your sexuality. As I don’t know your relationship and how things were when you were growing up or what your she is like generally I’m going to have to make a few assumptions but I think something that will go without saying is that your grandma will love you very much and her reaction is likely to be largely down to her fears for you and her desire for you to live a happy life. Unfortunately, it really sounds like there is a big generational divide here when it comes to what constitutes a normal happy relationship and the chances are your grandma has never had a gay person in her life before so she will probably need to completely re-learn everything she thinks she knows. As awkward as it might be I think the best thing to do in this situation is communicated and if you’re feeling like you want to check in on her you should. I don’t think this is the sort of thing that should be swept under the rug and never spoken about but it’s going to be up to you to educate her and reassure her that you are happy and being who you are is what is going to make you happiest person you can be. I’m sure it’s not something that will change overnight as grandparents do tend to be stuck in their ways from my experience however if you gradually make the effort and listen to her too I’m sure you can go back to having a really close relationship again. Above all don’t ever feel like you shouldn’t be who you are as at the end of the day if your grandma can’t accept who you are then that will be her loss. I hope it doesn’t come to that and she can come around. Please do keep us posted with how things go x.
I’m really sorry you are having to deal with all of this, and it sounds like a really stressful situation to be in. I’m sorry you have seen a distance from your Grandma ever since she found out about your sexuality, that must be so hard as you are just living as your authentic self and you shouldn’t have to hide that to make your Grandma or anyone happy.
From the sounds of things, this is probably a generational issue, especially as your Grandma fears you’ll be bullied due to your sexuality. Which like you said, back in her day people did have less freedom in expressing their sexuality and she probably finds it hard to disassociate that from the present day.
I think contacting your Grandma would be a great idea, I know there are tensions still from her ruining your birthday meal which I’m sure you would like an apology for. Would it be worth maybe asking for one and telling her again how it’s all making you feel? Reiterating with her that you are in a happy and healthy relationship, with a woman who cares greatly for you, and that you aren’t experiencing any judgement from anyone except from her. I wonder if her hearing this all again from you would make her rethink how she’s viewing it if she sees just how much this is all upsetting you.
I also don’t want you to have to explain your sexuality and identity repeatedly to anyone, whether they are family or a stranger, you shouldn’t have to justify how you want to live your life to anyone. So, if your Grandma can’t accept who you and is happy losing a relationship over it, it’s really her loss. I hope it doesn’t come to that and I really hope you can work it out with her as I can tell you really care about her, but there is only so much you can do.
Sending you lots of hugs and wishing you all the best in the future xxx