Between You And Me: Answering Your Problems Part 11
Whether you’re dealing with festive family fallouts, struggling to stay motivated in this last leg of 2020 or feeling a little lost in your relationship, we’ve got your back.
It’s the final part of our Between You And Me problem series for 2020 and what a roller-coaster of emotion it’s been. Now with Christmas just around the corner and Covid-19 restrictions still in place, we know a lot of you will be feeling overwhelmed and struggling to see the light at the end of a very long, dark, socially distanced tunnel. Whether you’re dealing with festive family fallouts, struggling to stay motivated in this last leg of 2020 or feeling a little lost in your relationship, we’ve got your back.
Christmas may look a little different this year but with family bubbles and baubles, we can get through it and start looking to the future again. Team Zoella would like to thank everyone who has written in with their problems and opened up to us in confidence in what has been an incredibly challenging and unprecedented 12 months. Virtual hugs to you all -remember you are more resilient than you know and this year is all the proof you need. Better days are coming.
We will be back and ready to lean on in 2021. In the meantime, please be gentle with yourself. Reach out to friends, family and mental health professionals if you feel vulnerable. You might feel alone but you’re not on your own.
Here’s BYAM: Your Problems Answered Part 11…
I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time with this. Just reading your message made me feel a little exhausted so I can only imagine how you’re feeling when you’re constantly running in the hamster wheel of work. I know the feeling of wanting to do as much as you can, ticking off lists scientifically provides a nice old dopamine hit, so you can see why people do it, and also just how helpful that can be. However this is only helpful if you’re setting yourself do-able amounts of work and it sounds as though you’ve pushed yourself so much, and so thin that you’re setting yourself a new “normal”. However, you are still the same person and you will end up burning yourself out trying to push yourself more and more. It’s so important to give yourself time to reset, to balance out those busy times and prioritize yourself in order to fuel yourself. You have likely forgotten how to do this, which is why it scares you so much, and is also possibly why you continue to fill your time with more work instead of relax or socialise. Maybe start adding little things in a bit at a time. A bath, a walk on your own, even a 10 minute viewing of something on Netflix and start building it up. I always like to think I will work better if I can give myself that little bit of calm and give myself the brain space in order to be more productive when I am working! Really hope this helps and that you are able to enjoy christmas, you DESERVE it! x
Hey, thanks so much for writing in to us. I found reading about what you’re struggling with really interesting as I think it’s certainly something I’ve struggled with in the past. So I’ll start by saying how amazing it is that you have this level of self-awareness that you’re able to vocalise your worries and how being unproductive makes you feel. I think a lot of us get caught up in the rat race of feeling like we need to do more, more, more, especially in this day and age where we’re bombarded with what everyone else is doing and achieving all the time, it’s easy to feel inadequate and that we’re not working hard enough. I used to be very much like this, threw everything I had into work, never leaving an email unanswered no matter how urgent or non-urgent it was, often working into the early hours. It got to the point of burn out where I was so stressed and couldn’t really see that I was putting all this pressure on myself that wasn’t necessary. My mindset has changed a lot over the last 4/5 years, I think the turning point was when my manager could see how stressed I was, he taught me some really valuable lessons on how to properly prioritise myself, my workload and it really helped me achieve a much more balanced work/life structure. With that in mind, I wonder whether speaking to your peers or manager would be a good first step? You’re definitely putting a lot of pressure on yourself which could be because of a perception of the culture of the company you’re in has made you feel like you can’t relax or slow down? It sounds like you’re an incredibly productive person and you should feel a sense of achievement once you’ve finished your to-do list rather than worry that you’ve not worked hard enough, trust me, often the most productive people are the ones that can do this, not the ones that are always slaving away out of hours. You’re only human and you can only do so much but you will start to burn out if you continue on this path where your work/life balance is completely off-key. Realising that you will be your best self if you give yourself some time off will be the turning in point for you. Rather than worrying about not always being 100% productive, you will begin to enjoy the time off, knowing that you will be able to do so much more if you’re not completely stressed and anxious. If you’re worried about feeling anxious over Christmas when you’re taking time off then why don’t you set yourself a few non-work-related goals, reading a book you’ve always wanted to read, do some cooking or baking or taking up a new hobby. Finding joy in ticking off smaller everyday tasks that are also enjoyable will hopefully help you feel like you’re not being “useless” and having fun at the same time. I really hope you do have a lovely Christmas and remember to be gentle on yourself. x
Hello lovely, thanks so much for writing into us. I hear you! As someone who is productive to her own detriment sometimes, I totally understand where this unfounded but valid fear is coming from. You clearly have an incredible work ethic and for that, you should be immensely proud of yourself – to be this self-motivated and driven is a fantastic trait, especially for your self-study. However, glamorising productivity is such a problem in modern living. We’ve all kinda forgotten what switching off really looks like thanks to these always-on lifestyles we’re living. It’s a hard concept to get your head around but actually, stepping away from your work is so important to be able to do it to the best of your ability. It might seem counter-intuitive when you could just carry on working but you’re not giving into idleness by granting yourself permission to rest and reset, quite the opposite actually. You’re forcing yourself to create some distance from your work in order to do it to the best of your ability. Too much of the same things is bad for us and that definitely is the case it comes to work. Work smarter, not longer. This year has been a lot for us all mentally so be gentle with yourself. You don’t need to be achieving all the time, especially in 2020. Getting through it to the best of your ability is enough. If you’re experiencing a lull in your productivity and motivation, it’s likely to be because you’re overworked, fatigued and heading for burn out, so all the more reason to take a jolly good screen-break and revisit work with fresh eyes. Christmas is the one time of the year you’re actively encouraged to slow down and relax, so definitely make the most of this downtime. Like Maddie says, if a lot of your worth and fulfilment comes from that sense of accomplishment, turn your focus to other things you can achieve such as writing all your Christmas cards and posting them on time, life-admin or a coach to 5K run? Your homework from me is to find some balance over these next few weeks and throw yourself into self-care, it sounds like you really do deserve some time to unwind 🙂 have a wonderful Christmas, my love! xx
Thanks so much for getting in touch. I can totally relate. I was definitely a late bloomer when it comes to relationships. From about the age of 14/15, all of my best friends were getting in relationships and no matter how much I wanted that, it just didn’t happen.
Please don’t be embarrassed by not having much experience with boys, I honestly don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed. Some of my best friends haven’t ever kissed anyone. You’ve not met a person you want to share that experience with just yet, and that’s OK.
It’s only natural that you’re pushing people away when you don’t have much experience liking people before. Just try not to put too much pressure on yourself. I think you should join some dating apps, get chatting to some people. It’s nice to get to know people. Go into it with the intention of just being friends and see what happens. The absolute last thing you want to do is to rush into something that isn’t right because you’ll end up having a negative experience. Online dating is great because there is that barrier, you don’t have to go any further than you’re comfortable and can just stop chatting to somebody if you’re not feeling it!
Also, with the Australia guy, I think to try not to dwell on past relationships. Everything happens for a reason and just because you weren’t ready at the time, doesn’t mean you were wrong.
Best of luck going forward and I hope you meet your person when you’re ready. Just remember, ‘You’re exactly where you’re meant to be right now’
Lots of love, Holly x
Hello, Anon thank you SO much for writing in with your worries as I actually think your situation is way more common than you might think and I’ve had a friend in a super similar situation to you before. Firstly you need to get out of your head, you worrying about the situation is actually making it into a much bigger deal than it is and causing you to push people away meaning it’s not getting… ‘resolved’ for lack of a better word.
It really isn’t that weird to have never had a relationship or any kind of sexual experience and you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it. The best thing you can do is actually own it, admit it to people, share your concerns with them and how you’d quite like to change your situation when the right person comes along. The most common way of meeting people is through friends so to have people in your corner thinking about setting you up with someone is great! Secondly, do not lie about it, it’s incredibly obvious when someone lies about this kind of thing and it makes people confused about why your lying, having them jump to conclusions about what could possibly have happened in your past. It also makes it harder for you to be open with them moving forward when you should be bringing them along on your journey to your first kiss, it’s exciting!
When it comes to talking to potential partners about your experience just keep it light and vague, there’s no reason for you to talk about your past especially so soon in your relationship and after you’ve got to a position where you are comfortable and confident with the person you’re with you can tell them your history, if they’re worth keeping they won’t judge you at all!
Make 2021 the year you get that smooch and everything else that comes with it, manifest your goals, own your past and strive for what you want! P.S there’s no such thing as ‘cool people’ when you’re in your mid-twenties, just focus on finding your people and I bet they’ll be the coolest people you know xx
I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having a tough time, but I want to start by saying you’re so brave to have made so many big life decisions and gone into them head-on, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
In a similar vein to you, I moved to a different part of the UK at the start of this year just before Covid hit without knowing anyone here, and whilst it’s not as challenging as your circumstance, I definitely know how it feels when countless obstacles get in the way of your new life. It sounds like your time in Belgium has been challenging from the start, and I wonder if you see yourself ever fully adjusting and thriving in this environment? It sounds like life was looking up with the promise of your new internship, but I want to throw an idea into the ring and ask if you’re truly putting your needs and mental health first in this situation? I don’t think now is the time for rash decisions, but I would hate for you to spend more and more time in this environment and still have this anxiety bubbling under the surface. Hopefully, 2021 is looking up in regards to life returning to some sort of normality, so if you can hang on in there then I think you could make it work if you really throw yourself into it. It’s going to be difficult and anxiety-inducing, but perhaps a job/internship would be the first piece of the puzzle, and then having more of a social life and fully integrating to your new home will bring some comfort, peace and stability.
Having said that, I also want to pose the question of if Belgium really is where you see yourself for the long haul? It’s one of those big decisions that you probably don’t want to think about, but if you continue to feel a sense of unsteadiness and worry whilst being there without a strong support network, maybe it’s time to rethink your home there and how it will serve you and your future happiness in the long run. I think you’re at a make or break point where you need to really put YOU first and think about the big picture, and lean into what really brings you happiness and stability.
Having said that, I want to touch on what you said about feeling lost and not in the space you thought you would be at this stage of life. A quote I’ve heard recently that I often repeat to myself is: “all great things in life are proceeded by chaos”. It really helps me to know that whilst life might feel totally out of my control, there often is a funny way of things working out just when you feel like you’ve reached the end of your tether. Keep going, hold out through this lockdown and know that your offer of an internship beforehand should give you the confidence that job options are out there for you to move along your life ‘timeline’ and reach the point of a house and family that you really strive for. Sometimes the best plan is not having a plan and trusting that things will be okay in the end. It’s hard to imagine that amongst the current fog you’re in, but I hope these affirmations might help you see the wood between the trees …
I am not stuck
I am ready for all life has to throw at me
I am stronger than I know
I am on the right path
What’s for me won’t pass me by
Good luck with your journey and make the most of having your boyfriend around more to discuss really making you feel prepared and confident for seizing life there, even if it looks a little different to what you’d hoped. Sending love!
Hi, there anon!
Thank you for writing in, Covid-19 and Christmas are NOT the mix we were hoping for in 2020, but here we are all having to navigate a new way of celebrating the holidays as best as we can. I can understand why you feel so stressed about this situation, it’s really tricky planning things with Covid-19 and trying to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible.
Here in the UK, we have cases rising across the country again too and we have also been given 5 days over Christmas to effectively form a ‘bubble’ with three households. So, I totally understand where you are coming from as I am in the same boat that technically we can see more of our family, but is it safe to do so? I’m sure many people reading this too will be feeling worried about the mixing that will be happening at Christmas, I know I certainly am. It is really stressful as you want to make everyone happy but when it comes to Covid-19 and a holiday which usually means a lot of socialising, it’s tricky to know what to do.
Is there any way you could all come to a compromise and maybe see if your brother and his family could isolate for a week or so before Christmas? As if you know they haven’t been in contact with anyone (assuming schools break up a week before Christmas too) then you might feel much safer. I saw that your Dad said he wouldn’t want to socially distance himself from them either, so I wonder if them isolating could be a good solution. If that isn’t possible due to work etc, maybe ask your Dad to rethink the social distancing. To me it sounds as if he just wants Christmas to be normal like it always is and might be struggling with the new reality of Christmas day.
If both of the above don’t work out, the only thing I can suggest is trying to have another conversation with your Dad about how worried you are. At the end of the day, everyone needs to feel comfortable and safe on Christmas day and it’s not fair for you and your Mum’s feelings to be disregarded. All else you can really do is just ensure you are washing your hands loads, cleaning surfaces etc if you are feeling super anxious about it and your Brother and his family do end up coming in the end.
I really hope you and your family can come to some sort of compromise for the holidays, so you are all feeling safe and happy. I hope this helps in some way! All the best, Darcey Xx
Christmas is always a very highly anticipated time of year and with Covid thrown into the mix it’s made it all kinds of complicated for families all over the globe. I think one of the main things to consider is what would make YOU feel most comfortable. Nobody should ever be in a position where they feel compromised or unsafe around someone or larger groups of people (even if that’s someone we love). It’s a hard thing to navigate as you don’t want to hurt feelings and it’s not personal, but prioritise yourself and what makes you most comfortable and others will accept that if they love and respect you. Although Christmas is such a highlight of the year for a lot of people, it will be very different this time for so many, so we shouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves to try and make it the perfect day, and consider it a little blip in the way of Christmases. I think sitting down together and talking very calmly and openly about how it would make you feel will get the best outcome! Hope you all manage to come to an arrangement that suits everyone! xx
Hey Anon, thanks so much for writing in!
I have a feeling there is A LOT of people in your situation at the moment with friends and family having different opinions on what is safe and what is not. The rules for covid are unclear at times and I personally think part of that is making people assess risk for themselves and make good decisions. It’s incredibly tricky being in a situation where your parents’ arent on the same page and it must be quite distressing feeling like you are not getting anywhere. I think the classic conflict resolution tactic of compromising can be used here and maybe the could use you as a mediator to form a plan for Christmas. Obviously, I don’t know where you are in the US or where your brother lives but would it be possible for your brothers family to isolate for 10 days before they come to you? Try and find something in between what your parents want from Christmas in the safest way possible but also remember seeing people doesn’t automatically mean you’re all going to get COVID, there has to be some wiggle room somewhere even if that’s making the most of something virtually. There are so many different issues that have come out of this mess of a year and I completely understand why your Dad would rather end it on a high with the people he loves at Christmas, but maybe remind him we’re close to the end with vaccines on the way, it would be so awful to fall at the final hurdle, and battling the virus all together is the only way to keep numbers down, it’s a team effort. I hope you can come to a decision with your parents that you’re all happy with this Christmas xx
Hello my love, thanks so much for writing in. It takes a lot of courage to open up about sex and relationships so you’re half-way there already, well done you. First of all, I’d say if you’re not sure that you’re ready to have sex, then you’re not ready.
If your happiness and wellbeing are important to him, then he will be more than willing to wait this one out, especially as it sounds like you very much want to take this next step in your relationship but maybe just not right now. There’s no specific timeline that says after 9 months in a relationship, you should be ready to have sex. You should absolutely only have sex if you genuinely want to do it and you certainly don’t owe him anything just because you’ve been together for a while. It sounds like your boyfriend isn’t a virgin, so perhaps he could do more to assure you that, when you’re ready and only when you’re ready, that you can take it slow and if you’re uncomfortable. Us girls always put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves first time round. We build it up and think it has to be this perfect, memorable, romantic, sexy event and well, like the movies but the reality is sex can be messy, clumsy, soft, goofy, wobbly and still be bloody great. That’s not to say it can’t be magical but I think if you let go of the idea that it has to be perfect, you’ll instantly relax and just enjoy the moment. Use this time to explore each other’s bodies, turn-ons and turn-offs and enjoy other fun ways of giving and receiving pleasure.
Trust is such a huge part of any relationship whether you’re having sex or not and communication is a great basis to start from, especially when it comes to sex. So talk about it together! Have an open conversation about intimacy, where your head’s at, your reservations, your expectations, how you want to be treated and respected and what you’re excited about trying in the near future. I think if you’re both on the same page, he will be aware of your feelings and you’ll have an all the more healthier relationship for it. Also, no-one knows what they’re doing btw – truth! Even those of us who have been at it for years, haha – it’s all a learning curve and everyone’s preferences are different but as long as you communicate openly as partners, it’ll be absolutely fine. If your boyfriend starts getting irritable because you’re not ready, then he was definitely not worthy of your V plates anyway. Thank you, next!
Thank you so much for writing in and opening up to us, losing your virginity is both a daunting and exciting time, but I absolutely do believe that you need to do it when you feel comfortable to do so. I think if you are feeling unsure, you probably aren’t quite ready. I feel like a lot of pressure is put on losing your virginity and that it can sometimes push people to do it before they are ready, or people say, “it’s not a big deal just do it”, but actually I think when you are truly ready it will just happen quite naturally. It’s not something that needs to be planned like in the movies, I think it’s got to feel really right at that moment.
If he truly cares about you and your feelings, he will not mind waiting and if he does mind, well, maybe he doesn’t deserve to share that intimate moment with you after all. From the sounds of it seems he may not be a virgin, so maybe talk through with him your fears of it being painful or maybe slightly uncomfortable for you the first time. I can assure you that probably most people’s first times are bit awkward and clumsy, no one knows what they are bloody doing and that’s the same with new sexual partners throughout your life. You always have to learn what each other like and don’t like, but that’s the beauty of building an intimate relationship with someone too.
When the time feels right you will know and remember that sex isn’t about how your body looks, so please don’t fret about that. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way, sex isn’t about how we look, it’s about what you feel and the person you are within that moment. Sex doesn’t need to be perfect, least does your first time! Make sure to communicate with him how you are feeling, what you do and don’t want to do and that when the time is right you will let him know. The ball is in your court!
Thanks so much for sending this message in. Lockdown has seriously wreaked havoc on EVERYTHING, hasn’t it!
Firstly, it’s nice that you’ve gotten close to your neighbours. That was my favourite thing about lockdown, everyone pulling together and creating new support networks.
In any relationship, I think it’s actually quite normal to have little feelings for other people. When I say feelings I mean little crushes and fancying. When I make a new friend I get so obsessed with them and want to spend all my time with them, it’s like that. But that feeling passes pretty quickly and as long as you haven’t acted on it, you’re not necessarily doing anything wrong.
5 years is a long time to be with someone and you obviously have a connection if you’ve been together that long. Maybe not being able to see your partner over lockdown has played a part in your growing feelings. It might be that you’re missing them and looking for that kind of attention from elsewhere, from someone more accessible. Facetime is not the same as being able to chat in person.
Think properly about what you want and try not to make any big life decisions while we’re in this weird in-between phase. This isn’t normal life and you don’t want to rush into a decision you’re going to regret.
Lot of love, Holly x
Hey lovely, thanks so much for writing in. This year has been WEIRD and our routines have really been shaken up which inevitably is going to have knock-on effects to our health, whether that be mentally or physically. That being said, even in a “normal” year it’s very common for our bodies to fluctuate in size so please don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s been a hard enough year as it is and you’ve done amazingly just to get through it. Without knowing where you’re from it’s difficult to give specific advice as I know a lot of countries have different rules at the moment but here are a few suggestions of things I’ve done in the past (a fellow non-natural exerciser) that might give you some ideas. Gym classes were a real game-changer for me and doing things in groups, whether that was boxing or barre I always found it much easier to stay motivated with others around. If you’d rather not go to classes at the moment which is completely understandable, most companies are still offering virtual classes. A friend of mine who recently had a baby swears by the Joe Wicks YouTube classes which are a quick 15-20minute HIIT that you can fit in around your busy day at home. The main thing is finding what really makes you tick if it’s dancing then signing up to a dance fit class would be perfect for you, you could even try some online dance choreography routines to ease yourself into it. It sounds so simple but even just walking makes such a difference, if you’ve got a Fitbit or pedometer app on your phone it will be able to track how much you’re moving per day. The recommended amount of steps is 10,000 which is surprisingly difficult to achieve, especially when you’re stuck at home so try setting yourself some small goals to meet each week. Slowly you will see a difference and feel so much better. Try not to get too obsessed with what the scales say and listen to your body and do what makes you feel good. Sending lots of positive vibes! Have a great Christmas xx
Hey my love, thanks so much for writing to us and trusting us to answer your dilemma. This year has been A LOT, so the first thing I would say is, so what if you’ve put on a few pounds anyway!? Is it really the worst thing that could have happened this year? Definitely not. Be gentle to yourself, 2020 has been one hell of a rollercoaster – our routines are all out of whack, our stress levels have been at an all-time high, our eating habits have changed and our exercise routines are still up in the air all these months later, so you’re not on your own. Before the first national lockdown, I loved going to my local gym and joining the Body Combat class and I still miss the morale of a group of people all working out together but now, I just make sure I keep moving by going on solo runs and changing up my routes to keep it interesting. It’s a great motivator for getting outside and making the most of my lunchtimes – otherwise, I wouldn’t move from my laptop. Depending on your region’s coronavirus restrictions, you could look into joining a local running club if you think having that support from other people to motivate you would help you get out there. If running isn’t your thing, you could try a couple of virtual classes such as yoga or pilates, or even YouTube videos. There are so many online classes available now as the industry was very quick to adapt – plus, doing it in the comfort of your own home is a great way to try something new without the pressure of being in front of people in a real studio (no-one is paying attention to what anyone else is doing on Zoom, they’ll be too concerned with keeping up with the teacher). I would also say, don’t underestimate the power of a good, long walk for your physical and mental health. It’s actually pretty hard to walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day unless you actively try so just getting outside and setting yourself the goal of walking a certain amount of steps every day is a fantastic place to start. Check out your local area too as I’m sure they’ll be some socially distanced dance classes that run outdoors, weather permitting. I’m not sure where you are geographically and whether sea swimming or lido swimming would be an option but it has a whole host of benefits for the mind and body so perhaps you could look into that. I’d say, take the pressure off exercising to ‘look’ a certain way and instead focus on doing it to ‘feel’ a certain way. If dancing is the ultimate mood-booster then stick on your favourite tracks in your bedroom and dance like no-one’s watching, right? It definitely counts as exercise where I’m coming from. Merry Christmas to you lovely xxx
WOW- I really relate to this situation, unfortunately, and I’m so sorry you’ve been put into a position that makes you question your worth and significance in your boyfriend’s life. I want to start by saying I don’t think anything that your boyfriend has done here is from a place of malice or intent to make you feel less than, but sadly boys do have a funny way of communicating and really not thinking things through with the same nuances and depth that women do. It can be really challenging over a long period of time to feel a sense of unease and low-level sadness at not being made to feel a priority, so don’t belittle or disregard your feelings because you are 100% entitled to be feeling this way given how he’s handled these situations. I find the idea of you agreeing to give him space to play his games a little sad really, as I can really see from your submission how much it would mean for you to spend more time with him which he is perhaps a bit oblivious to. Relationships are so much about compromise and I really feel in that situation he could have reassured you and made a sacrifice to cut down his gaming and chatting late at night a couple of nights a week to really show how much he values your presence. Again, I don’t think he did it with any ill intention, but from personal experience insecurities and doubt will only continue to build as you put more and more effort in without it being reciprocated back. Playing mind games never ends well, but perhaps you could ease off putting your all into keeping things going and see if he steps up? Especially with his new living situation, I really feel like he should be going above and beyond to show you how much he values you!
I find the flat circumstance such a tricky one as I really can see it from both perspectives. You’re not being unreasonable for feeling like a second choice or having a sense of being undervalued because of his lack of excitement, so don’t second guess that and think you’re doing anything wrong- you’re not. It’s an impossible scenario because either you or the friend would end up being disappointed, but I do agree I personally would want someone who actively wanted to spend time with me and would jump at thought of working out a way to live together. I think it’s little niggles like this that can often make insecurities and anxiety form in the relationship, as the lack of attention and not having needs met starts the path of chasing someone and becoming needy in the hope of feeling validated and fulfilled. It’s so hard, and I would never suggest breaking up with someone when you’re clearly not ready to, but don’t disregard how you’re feeling and think it’s normal to not feel like a priority. You’ve been together long enough that he should know how to make you feel secure and happy.
I hope that whatever happens you get the value and appreciation you want and deserve from him, and if not, know that what one person isn’t capable of, someone else can do tenfold.