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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
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Ask Anna Graphic

Ask Anna: Relationships, friendships and yourself

The Eagle's advice columnist answers your most burning questions

Editor’s Note: Some submissions have been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Question: My ex broke up with me 3 months ago. It was my most serious and important relationship and it meant the world to me. I see him around campus and it really sucks. I sort of panic every time I see him. I’m trying to get better — get out of my comfort zone, hang with friends, keep myself busy — but there’s still times I get really sad about it. Oftentimes I think about how much I messed up in the relationship, instead of recognizing mutual problems. I’m tired of being sad and just want to enjoy life without thinking of him and getting sad. Any advice would be appreciated.

First of all, thank you for being open and honest about what you are feeling. I frequently hear people say that after a certain period, you should just stop feeling a certain way about an ex, such as panic or sadness, and instead shift to other feelings. I think it is so important that we let ourselves feel how we need to feel. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much time has passed — if something is still causing you pain and sadness, it’s okay to feel that pain and sadness. 

With that said, those feelings aren’t ones that we want to sit with forever. I appreciate that you are actively trying to get out of your comfort zone, hanging out with friends and keeping busy, but sometimes all that does is distract you and push away what you are really feeling. Instead of focusing on trying to distract yourself, I encourage you to find new purposes in what you’re doing in life. Spend time with your friends with the intention of spending time with your friends, not as a distraction for missing your ex. Think about the joy and happiness those relationships bring you. Try to pick out how you have maintained those successful relationships and carry that positivity with you to other relationships. 

It’s hard to not blame yourself for a relationship ending. Everyone makes mistakes, and even your ex made mistakes too. It does nothing to continue to take blame without forgiving yourself because you’re unable to move on and grow from the experience. Try to give yourself grace for being human.

Much of this advice centers around changing your attitude towards the situation, which I understand is not easy, but I think will be vital to your ability to continue forward. The last piece of advice I want to give you is to look at the way this relationship helped you grow. You allowed yourself to be vulnerable and opened yourself up to a relationship that became important to your life. You should recognize what a great feat that is. So many people are too afraid of doing that. Thank yourself for all that you’ve done to get yourself this far, forgive yourself for not getting far enough, feel all the feelings and remind yourself that you have so much love to share in all of your current and future relationships. 

Question: I want to spend a (rare) free day doing something relaxing and rejuvenating without spending a lot of money. What should I do?

Thank you for reaching out! As someone who’s on a budget, but still lives by the idea that I need a little treat or activity every day, I work to find activities that fit this frame. I’ll start off with some of the easy D.C. staples. First off, any Smithsonian museum is a great option, especially one that connects to an interest of yours, like art or history. Additionally, the United States Botanical Garden is a great choice to walk around and enjoy nature. I also recommend going to the National Zoo and seeing the pandas before they leave.

Here’s a couple more of my recommended D.C. activities: 

Georgetown Glow is a free light show around Georgetown that is so fun to go to with friends. It does only occur during specific times of the year, so keep it on your radar.  

The Library of Congress is another great way to spend a day. You have to reserve tickets for the library, but they are free, and as someone who loves detailed buildings and artwork, it was a beautiful place to spend time. 

While you’re around Capitol Hill, I also recommend putting in your headphones and walking around the neighborhood. I love exploring different D.C. neighborhoods on a nice walk and Capitol Hill is a beautiful place to stroll. While you’re doing your walking tour, check out Wine & Butter, a small cafe in Capitol Hill that has outdoor seating. 

Another free activity I love is going down to the monuments in the evening and watching the sunset. It sounds like a basic D.C. activity, but it is not overrated. To add a little more fun to that activity, bring some snacks, a book, music and a blanket and have a little picnic. If the monuments aren’t your thing, I also suggest picnicking at the National Cathedral, which, while a typical AU activity, can be so peaceful. If neither of those are your style, I recommend finding a nearby park or even taking advantage of the quad on a nice day.

If you’re looking for good food and treats that aren’t too expensive, I recommend Firehook Bakery — specifically their cookies — in Dupont Circle and The Diner for breakfast in Adams Morgan. Additionally, Dupont, Georgetown and NoMA have farmers’ and flea markets, called Eastern and Union Market, that are great opportunities to browse, be outside and only spend if you want to. 

Many of these sound like ‘basic’ D.C. things, but honestly, when I have a free day, I really enjoy doing all the touristy or easy things in this city that don’t take too much effort. I love enjoying the time I have in the city where I chose to spend my college years. 

Question: Why is the vibe at AU so off? I feel like making friends here is so weird.

For this one, I’m going to reference an opinion article I wrote last semester that will hopefully answer your question. I wrote this article, “I am not my number of internships,” because there is sometimes a really weird vibe at American University.

Many D.C. colleges, including AU, have a high-achievement culture that stems from the opportunities in D.C. In the piece, I explained how there is a toxic internship culture on campus, coming from the University and continued by the students. It contributes to the “off” feeling people have about the social scene here. 

I think the vibe can be off at AU because many people here feel pitted against each other, constantly in competition and simultaneously bogged down by the high-stakes culture. It’s going to take a lot for people to reconcile with that and truly change their values.

On another note, I also believe a lot of us got thrown off our vibe because of the coronavirus pandemic. I started my freshman year of college in fall 2020, when the University put all classes online and everyone stayed home. It was extremely difficult to make friends in a new online environment. 

Having identified the vibe, I’ll now advise on how to make friends. It sounds very obvious, but joining clubs in your interests helps. It doesn’t always work, but at the very least it gives you some beginning interactions. My next advice is to say yes. Say yes to your roommate asking you to go somewhere with their friends or say yes to an on-campus event. Even if you don’t get along with the person inviting you, you might meet someone you love. My advice is to say yes to things, which seems obvious, but saying yes to things I was scared to do got me to where I am now. Additionally, try to talk to anyone you can. This can be a person sitting next to you in class or someone you’re waiting in line with. I understand this can be awkward and it is not something I do very often, but sometimes it can be helpful. 

Question: My very recent ex-long distance boyfriend’s roommate/best friend tried to text me on snapchat but didn’t send anything. Do I confront or ignore?

Personally, I would ignore it. That attempt to text but not actually sending anything was either an accident or something they thought would be funny. If they never actually sent anything, there’s no reason for you to engage in whatever they are trying to do. If something develops later, it might warrant confrontation, but right now, I would just ignore it and carry on. 

Anna Gephart is a Senior in the School of Public Affairs and is a columnist for The Eagle. 

This article was edited by Jelinda Montes, Alexis Bernstein and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis. 

 Hosts Sara Winick and Sydney Hsu introduce themselves and talk about their favorite TV shows. This episode includes fun facts, recommendations and personal connections. 

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