Advice Column #1: BS by B.S.

It’s hard to open up about things. I get it. The fear of what your friend might say or think can leave you uneasy after asking for advice. Even if they’re your confidant, the possibility that bias can develop after your confession leaves you feeling weary. That’s what I’m here for! My name is Brenna Shelton, and while I’m not a beauty guru or an ultimate fashionista, I’d like to think I have a rather optimistic way of viewing life. With a minor in psychology, I’ve been able to use my own life experiences and partner them with my knowledge of human thought processes to develop some helpful answers. I hope my column grants a safe space filled with answers, anonymity, and amazing women. So with that, let’s begin!

I’ve had the worst social anxiety for years and have found myself losing friends because of it. My question is how do I cope with this and what are some tips to becoming more confident and outgoing?

This is such a hard spot to be in, and I’m sorry you’re going through it. Dealing with social anxiety can feel crippling and out of your control. If your anxiety has been something that has lost you friends, you may feel pressured to make a massive change without being mentally ready. The first step I would take would be to reach out to your immediate friends you still feel close to, and let them know what’s going on. Many times, your friends don’t understand the significance of what you’re feeling. In their heads, even though it’s not right, they may be thinking that you don’t care about them and that you’re making the choice to seclude yourself. Let them know, “Hey guys, I care about you, here’s what’s been going on with me. If you guys could be patient with me, I would greatly appreciate it.” From there, the pressure to resume going out will be relieved because your friends will understand what you’re dealing with. If they’re meant to be in your life, they’ll want to do whatever they can to help. 

In terms of going out and being confident, that is something that comes from within, and is built over time. Luckily, I have some tips that may help. The first is to not take yourself too seriously. We have this innate feeling as women that we need to be perfect ALL THE TIME. We are scrutinized for our mishaps or appearances, and this causes us to overthink what we wear and what we say. If we mess up an introduction, we can spend the rest of the night kicking ourselves for our slip-up. Confidence comes from loving our mistakes. So what if you called someone the wrong name or wore the wrong color underwear for your outfit! Finding humor out of your mistakes can also be beneficial. Confidence is being able to step back and say, “yeah, I messed up,” then continuing to love and accept yourself. 

Another technique is going to sound a little silly, but I preach this to all my friends and practice it myself. Sometimes you wake up, and you just hate the way you look. Even though you looked the same as yesterday and will probably look the same tomorrow, something about today is just… off. On days or nights like this, here’s what I suggest. Stand in the mirror and look at yourself. Start by looking at your flaws. For me, my eyes are different sizes. It may be hard to tell, but for me, it really bugs me. So I look in the mirror and look into my eyes and say, “I love my eyes. They’re blue and pretty and help me see.” I then look for something I love. I have really thick eyebrows that I love. So, I look in the mirror and tell them I love them. At first, you may think it’s dumb and you may laugh at the first couple things you say you love. However, after about two or three characteristics, you start to believe what you’re saying. After you go through your body, your face, your skin, whatever it is, you can gain confidence in understanding that they all have a purpose. Every mark you have, every imperfection, has some kind of impact that, and as cheesy as it sounds, makes you PERFECTLY you. Love your favorite qualities because they’re beautiful, and love your flaws because they serve a purpose on your body, and without them, you would not be yourself.

What are some of your most favorite and most effective diet/workout tips and tricks?

First, I want to stress how important body positivity is. If you are looking to start dieting or working out, make sure that it is something you want to do for yourself. In the age of Instagram models, it’s easy to start comparing yourself to the pictures you see. Why isn’t my butt bigger? Why does my stomach not look like that? Starting or continuing a healthy journey should not begin with comparison, but with an internal decision to make yourself feel better and more confident! 

I’ve been dieting this quarantine, but not in the way you think. I am someone who refuses to give up the craving of a cookie or pasta for a diet regimen. I have been practicing mindful eating habits. What this does is holds you accountable for what you put into your body, and allows you to balance your healthy and unhealthy habits. For example, on days I knew that I would be having cheeseburgers for dinner with my family, I would have a healthier or lighter lunch. On days I didn’t know what I was going to eat, I would just space out what I ate throughout the day. By planning your meals ahead, you’re more thoughtful about the amount you’re eating. The same goes for calories from drinking. If you’re someone who knows you’re going to have a few glasses of wine with your girlfriends at night, you may want to have a healthier lunch and dinner during the day to offset the alcohol. 

In terms of working out, I think what’s most important is finding what works best for YOU. Some people aren’t comfortable with lifting weights, and that’s okay. There are so many other options to help you get healthy. Maybe instead of running on a treadmill, you go rollerblading with some friends. This quarantine, I have been doing Pure Barre programs online. Pure Barre is a workout class that combines small movements and dancing, and it’s been super fun for me! So, I think my best workout advice would be to explore. Be inquisitive and look into new and different ways to get your sweat on until you find your favorite.

How do you make a relationship last during quarantine?

Being in quarantine sucks in more ways than one, especially if you have a significant other. At this point, your S/O and you have learned that this is an adjustment period. Long-distance relationships are hard, even if long-distance means the other side of the country. The lack of physical touch and in-person interaction will take a toll on any relationship. My first tip is that you should standardize talking or facetiming once a day on the phone. Even if it’s just a two-minute phone call to say hello, it’s important to hear and see each other. Texting can become so repetitive, especially when the only thing you’ve done in quarantine is binge watch Outer Banks. I’ve noticed that when doing distance, if you don’t hear or see one another, it’s easy to become disconnected. At some point, you find yourself disassociating your in-person S/O from your pen pal S/O. By using some time to just reconnect once a day, it will be beneficial to your relationship. To take it a step further, facetime dates are essential. Okay, bear with me here, but facetime movie dates are totally a thing! Start a movie at the exact same time, and enjoy it together from different houses. Headphones will be required, but it’s totally worth it. Have dinner together and talk about your day. These little things will help keep you and your partner close in these really hard times. 

My final piece of advice may be the most important. In quarantine, you need to be more communicative than normal in your relationship. Going to your partner’s house to fix an issue is no longer allowed, so disagreements have to be resolved via phone, which is not ideal. So to be pre-emptive, let your partner know what’s going on before it festers and becomes an issue. For example, let’s say you feel really unappreciated. If things were normal, your feelings may be resolved once you see him or her and are reminded that they do care, and may just be a bad texter. But in this new normal, you have to get in front of the “you don’t care about me” fight. Let him or her know how you’ve been feeling and why, in a very honest and vulnerable way, and make sure to not assume how they’re feeling. It doesn’t need to be an attack. It just needs to be an honest, mature conversation to resolve the issue before it progresses into irreparable damage. This doesn’t make you “needy” or “annoying”, it makes you an adult. If you fear your partner may not be receptive to your discrepancies, well, you may want to reconsider the person you’re dating. 

And that’s on not taking any B.S.!

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