Your College Aunts Week Six: Woes and worries

Worries for next term, what to do when you’ve been ghosted, and how to avoid slipping back into childish habits while working from home

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t the theme still supposed to be ‘prospects and pressure’? And, in short, the answer is yes. However, it seems as if a) you hated the advice we gave regarding careers, or, and I’m hoping it’s this one, b) this isn’t the area worrying you the most at the moment. So instead, this week’s column is entitled ‘woes and worries’ because we felt as if that better encapsulated the sorts of problems you’ve been sending in.

How have our weeks been? Wow, you’re always asking that! Amira has started to settle back into life at Girton, with rural life now seeming like a distant memory. However, she was sure to say goodbye to some of the farm animals before leaving. Oh, you want a picture? Here you go!

Who knew sheep could be so cute? (Photo credit: Amira Nandhla)

Meanwhile, Leila had a rather chaotic week with a many-a-Zoom call, culminating in an unusual occurrence yesterday. Whilst out on her daily walk, she had the strange experience of bumping into ‘The Beast’ from The Chase who gave her a motivational speech, imparting various words of wisdom about life and how we should be sure to take opportunities when they arise. As a result, it would only be right to follow his advice, and take this opportunity to plug the podcast. So go on, give it a listen.

Right, that’s more than enough about us, let’s delve into this week’s column!

Q1: I’m so worried we won’t be allowed back for next term – I just know I can’t do another term at home without my friends!

Well, I hate to be that person, but Toope’s recent email suggests that as many students as possible will hopefully be back next term – there is hope! However, if this year’s taught us anything, it’s that promises, hopes, and maybe even dreams, aren’t always met or fulfilled. So, what can we do to manage the prospect of another worst-case scenario situation being realised?

First things first, I know you’ve said that you ‘can’t‘ do another term at home without your friends, but I would like to point out that, so far, you already have! That’s not to say that it hasn’t been without its difficulties, or that it has been ideal by any stretch of the imagination but, nevertheless, you have done it. The fact that you will have been able to do this term under these less than favourable conditions means that, if anything, another term like this would, to an extent, be easier.

Colleges vary in how receptive they are to requests to return.  You will need a good reason as to why you should be allowed to come back if the current situation persists. In the meantime, however, remember why you are at home.  It is the safest space for you, and you can still stay in contact with your friends, even though you might not currently be interacting as frequently as you all would like.

Obviously, I don’t know the details of your situation, but if the situation is serious, in the sense that it really is harming your mental health, then it may be worth contacting your tutor and having a chat about whether it would be possible to go back. Beyond this, it’s important not to forget the plethora of resources that are available to you at all levels – from your JCR officers to the SU, to the University Counselling Service, there are lots of people to speak to and information to read which may be of help to you in this current situation.

However, if this really just is a case of missing your friends above all else, my advice would be slightly different. Have you been keeping in touch with them? Have you thought about setting up a Zoom study session where you can do your work in the presence of a familiar face? Dealing with FOMO and losing contact with friends was something we discussed in detail in our episode with Gleb, so if you’re in need of further advice that could also be a good place to start.

Q2: I’ve been ghosted by someone I met on Hinge and I’m kind of upset about it. We only met up once but we seemed to get on really well and they were keen to meet up again – that’s not in my head, they said so themselves. We arranged to meet up again and then they cancelled unexpectedly and haven’t messaged me since, though I can see on their socials that they’re out having fun all the time. I’m kind of stuck in a thought loop now – I keep questioning myself, what I could have done or said better, whether I came across too keen, et cetera. It’s kind of having an impact on my self-esteem and now I’m thinking that next term I should just sack off romance altogether. I get that this seems super dramatic, and I know it shouldn’t hurt this much. It’s just strange because I thought they really liked me. 

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this question, I’d just like to say that, to whoever wrote this, we’ll probably be unpacking this in a lot more detail in the next episode of the podcast, so that may be worth a listen when it comes out next week. And, no, that isn’t my sly attempt at making you listen to the pod, rather it’s me acknowledging that there’s a lot to unpack here and that the written word might not be the best way to express it.

Firstly, I’d like to say that you are not imagining things when you feel the meet-up went well. Establishing this is imperative to prevent self-gaslighting. It is perfectly natural to be upset about this, but what we need to focus on, is how to deal with this feeling in a healthy way and not let it consume you. This person’s actions and words are inconsistent with one another so, of course, you’re going to feel confused.

Without dissecting this person’s behaviour in too much detail, let me just say, it is shady, and reflects badly on them, NOT you. There’s no way to know the reason for their behaviour since they’ve decided not to explain it to you. Unfortunately, this means that the only thing to do is move on, and by moving on, I really mean: stop dissecting and analysing your own behaviour to the point of self-hatred.

When things don’t work out in the romantic sense, it is never really one person’s fault, but rather a problem of compatibility between the two people involved. You shouldn’t have to change the way you are for someone to like you: they should just like you. I know that might sound like a large task, but if you’re really looking for something meaningful and healthy, you’ll never achieve it by pandering to the whims of every emotionally-unavailable person you go on a date with.

There are going to be many times in your life when you think someone likes you and then they mistreat you, or do something that suggests otherwise. That’s just life. And it doesn’t happen because we seemed too keen, or because we made a bad joke, but rather because this other person failed to be honest about who they are and how they are feeling.

Think of it this way: do you think someone who is inconsistent with how they express their emotions and generally dishonest is a good person? The answer is obviously no. Now I have to ask you: why do you think you should be with someone who isn’t a good person? You say this event is impacting your self-esteem, but I think maybe there are some unresolved self-esteem issues that this has highlighted, which you definitely need to address before re-engaging with romance.

It’s not you, it’s them, and to deconstruct yourself in response to this event is to dishonour yourself. The only way to measure your self-esteem is by clearly establishing the kind of behaviour you are willing to accept. You deserve better than this treatment. Don’t forget that.

Q3: Living at home with my parents this term and I’ve fallen back into my child-like relationships. I’m 22! How do I feel more like an adult again and regain a degree of confidence and independence?

While you are living with your parents in your childhood home, it is important to remind yourself that no matter how at home you feel, the house belongs to them, not you. Do you contribute to household bills? While very few parents would expect you to contribute the market value, try to make some contribution to the household, be it financial or practical, to help demonstrate to them that you are an adult.

It’s also really important to establish boundaries between you and your parents now you are living back at home. Have a clear and frank discussion about what constitutes communal space and personal space. For you, your personal space may be your bedroom and a bathroom, but you can assert autonomy over that and ask your parents to respect it as yours. Create a sign for your door to let your parents know if you are on a call or working.

It may seem incredibly stifling at the moment to be treated like a child, but remember, it is only temporary. In the meantime, there are plenty of ways you can try to negotiate your arrangement with your parents in order to get them to be understanding of your boundaries.

Well, that’s all from us this week…

The theme for next week is currently undecided, so that means we’re open to just about anything… get submitting here. What’s that? Relationship problems? Again? Alright then, into the submissions box that goes.

If you haven’t listened to earlier episodes of the podcast, what are you doing? Seriously, it’s a remote term, what else are you doing with your time? And while you’re at it, you may as well give us a follow on Instagram (@yourcollegeaunts).


Your College Aunts x

Have any worries?

Here is the link for next week, submit questions to your heart’s content.

Want to be the next Fatima?

Did you ever find yourself listening to the podcast last term thinking that you could’ve added something interesting to the discussion? Well, here’s your chance to be a guest on the podcast! All you need to do is fill out this form proposing a theme for an episode and tell us why you think you would be a great guest. Go on, apply! What have you got to lose?

Featured image credit: Leila Lawrence and Amira Nandhla 

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