Your College Aunts Week 8: FINAL COLUMN OF TERM!

Wrapping the term up with some final bits of advice

It’s the final column of Michaelmas! Xanthe’s stress is going to be over on Monday (more or less) and Leila’s continues all the way until Friday… actually, make that the holidays. What a term it’s been, with Your Aunts answering over 70 of your questions on all manner of subjects, dishing out advice left, right and centre. Sadly, Xanthe will also be leaving YCA at the end of this term, but don’t worry, the pod will be continuing with some new members.  It’s been such a pleasure to read and respond to all your submissions this term and Leila is going to continue to do an amazing job next term. There will be some great podcasts and advice column to come in 2021!

Q1: My ex and I share a home friendship group, and we broke up in September so this is my first time seeing them since. I feel quite overwhelmed by the idea but because of the social situ, I can’t avoid it.

Accept that it will be awkward and possibly a bit upsetting but don’t worry ahead of time about it. Ultimately you’re both adults and should be able to act tactfully to handle the situation. If they can’t, that just shows them to be childish and should prove to you it’s the right decision to have broken up. I would suggest engaging them in some light small talk – ask them about how their term was, how their family are, what their Christmas plans are – to break the ice and make it clear you aren’t going to be avoiding them for the duration of the holidays. Beyond that meaningless chat, you aren’t obligated to do much else, after all, none of your friends are going to expect you to be 100% over it and normal with one another.

Avoid drinking too many festive beverages, as this can often lead to arguments – with ex’s or with anyone else to be honest – and an argument would make your friends deeply uncomfortable. We don’t want to start a dramatic ‘picking of sides’ type situation that scars your friendship group for life. If you aren’t a fight-y sort of drunk, you might be a cry-y sort of drunk, which can also create an awkward situation. Don’t have a deep chat with your ex about the break up while hooned. You will regret it the next day, guaranteed.

I can imagine that after seeing them you’ll be feeling a range of emotions, some upset, some anger, some weird numbness. I think it’s wise to take some time for yourself the next day and just work through it in your head a bit. Let yourself feel what you need to feel so you can get over it. We want you to be able to move on with your life, and not carry this ex like a 32kg piece of BA First Class luggage. So accept the fact the situation is sub-optimal and just use it as a vehicle to move on, because avoiding them for the rest of your life will mean you never face up to it.

Q2: I joined a committee this term that I’ve just rly hated being on. It looks really good on my CV so I don’t want to quit because I’ve already done loads of work on it and it feels like a waste. What should I do?


That might sound dramatic and even a bit harsh, but I think it’s important to note that if this experience is making you this unhappy, it genuinely isn’t worth it. No matter how good you think something is going to look on your CV, if the task itself is something you ‘hate’, then I think this would be a moment to re-evaluate what you’re aiming towards doing in the future.

If you quit, it won’t take away the work you did and what you learnt from doing it, so don’t view it as a waste of your time. Sure, quitting a committee isn’t an outstanding quality you can put on your CV, but it is an experience that will put you in good stead for the future. From working on this committee, you learnt some new skills, or maybe even developed some old skills. I think one of the most important experiences in relation to future careers is learning what you don’t want to do, which this experience should have hopefully helped with.

Cambridge is hard enough as it is, and so you’ve got be careful with what you choose to spend your time on. Just because being on this committee wasn’t for you doesn’t mean there isn’t something else that you can do with your time that will be more enjoyable AND still CV-worthy. I know this is definitely easier said than done, as not everything you need to do for the benefit of your future self is going to be inherently pleasurable, but this doesn’t mean that you need to choose to actively engage in time-consuming activities which are making you unhappy and in a field that probably isn’t suited to you.

Also, whilst doing things for your CV is great and all, sometimes it’s better to pursue extracurricular activities that genuinely excite and interest you, as they won’t feel like a burden on top of all your other work. Not only this but sometimes things that you don’t initially conceive as being ‘good’ for your CV will end up making you more interesting and stand out. Essentially, stop being so certain about what is and isn’t useful for your future, as you don’t actually know what your future holds.

Q3: The couple I live with are fighting all the time and I think they are about to break up. When we get back in Lent, it’s gonna be so uncomfortable, help!

My first response to this is really just: this isn’t your problem. Or at least it isn’t currently your problem. Generally speaking, other people’s relationships are a no-go zone. Involving yourself isn’t going to help your situation, or theirs, for that matter. I understand that probably isn’t the easiest thing to hear, given that you cannot escape their couple drama, and it has probably become intensified by the lockdown. Generally speaking, the best thing that you can do is remove yourself from situations that make you uncomfortable, as this will make your living situation easier. On the other hand, if their fighting is seriously fracturing the household dynamic, a household meeting of some sort may need to be held to discuss the situation and make everyone’s feelings known. Living in a tense atmosphere is something no one aspires to.

When it comes to the prospect of them breaking up: stop thinking in hypotheticals. All it’s going to do is make you increasingly anxious over a situation in which you have no control. Trust that whatever happens, you will find a way to navigate it. Take responsibility for how you feel and think about what can be done about it, but only once something has *actually* happened. I think if there’s anything we’ve learnt from covid, it’s how uncertain everything is in general, so stop assuming you know what’s going to happen before it’s happened.

Well, that’s all from us this week and this term…

If you haven’t already listened to our podcast, what are you doing? Seriously, it’s week 8, we both know the work ethic has plummeted and you’re searching for other forms of entertainment to get you through to the end.

Want some more golden advice? Take a look at last week’s column.

See you next term in a new and exciting format.


Your College Aunts x