The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Heart-to-Heart: Volume IX

The Life Section’s Love Columnists answer burning relationship questions submitted by the University’s student body

<p>Ask all of your burning (love) questions with our Love Connection writers</p>

Ask all of your burning (love) questions with our Love Connection writers

  1. Oftentimes, I get social anxiety about meeting new people or pursuing relationships. How do I care less about what people think?

When pursuing relationships, social anxiety can be tough to contend with — especially when it comes to meeting new people or passing by someone you think is cute. With that said, I’ll begin by reminding you of a pretty harsh truth that we each struggle to wrap our heads around sometimes — no one cares. I don’t mean care in the sense that you don’t have loving, supportive people in your life. I mean regarding those passing by at a party — they’re not looking at you. Instead, they’re likely too busy being concerned about themselves, their image and their own “scaries” to consider yours. 

Last summer, I interned for a weekend during a high school class reunion at my old boarding school. As I handed out name tags and signed people in on the first day of their highly anticipated weekend back on campus, I was struck at how many people confided in me about how anxious and nervous they felt in those first seconds of being back at their alma mater. They were all concerned about seeing classmates they hadn’t laid eyes on in over five years — all assuming that every classmate would be talking about how they’ve changed or what job they have or didn’t have. My advice to everyone who told me this was exactly that — I’d say to them, “everyone has said the same thing to me tonight.” 

However, even as I write to you, I’m giving myself this advice as well. I don’t think anyone truly has this skill — not caring what others think — down. But therein lies our comfort — we’re all way too concerned about how we’re being potentially judged than to judge others. Anyone who is judging you isn’t worth your time, anyway.  As long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and believe that you are a good person, as long as you know that you have good intentions, or that are doing your best to be kind — to yourself and others — then there’s no need for scaries, whether in dating or in any other capacity. If you see a cute passerby at a party and want to talk, the confidence you get from knowing yourself can reduce your scaries. In the words of Kris Jenner, someone who’s often subjected to what others think — “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” 

  1. I get anxious about balancing my school work with spending time with my partner. Like, I do well in school, I just always feel like I could be doing more. How do I stop feeling anxious about getting my work done or choosing how to spend my time?

Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or just balancing work with social life, or work with self-care, you’re not alone in feeling this way. This is a persistent and pervasive experience, and that’s because there’s a bit of truth in what you just said — we always could be doing more. But that doesn’t mean that we have to, or even that we should. 

Another truth that you might need to acknowledge first is that school isn’t everything. You’re doing well in school, that’s great. How are you doing in your relationship? How are you with your friends? How are you prioritizing yourself? Ask yourself these questions first, before you ask yourself what more you could be doing on the work front.  

The other reality worth considering is that work and love are not mutually exclusive. Spending time with your partner doesn’t always have to mean “Netflix & chill.”  Have you tried studying together? Going to the library together could offer a mutual sense of accountability and restraint — you have to abide by the quiet policies and limit conversation, but you can still enjoy a feeling of togetherness and close proximity. 

And to the experience of anxiety, that fear of failing can be beneficial to a degree. However, when the outcome we’re worried about is completely out of our control, that anxiety doesn’t serve us anymore. We have to manually shut it down, learn how to identify when our fight-or-flight mode has activated and do our best to override it with rational thought and intentional breathing. Otherwise, it will seep into other facets of our lives, like dinner conversations with our partner or the way we look at ourselves in the mirror, where we don’t need to be anxious. 

In summary, instead of being anxious about how you can manage school work with time with your significant other or loved ones, try to let go of stringent categorization. It’s not all or nothing, or one or the other. Although your anxiety might be telling you otherwise, remind yourself that no one is asking you to choose. Next time that feeling creeps up on you, ask yourself what more you could be doing for yourself — not for school or others — at that moment, whether it’s going outside or reading a book for pleasure. If you shift your focus to at least be on what more you can be doing for yourself, you’ll improve in the classroom and in your relationships.  


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