Welcome to Reggie Responds, Roar’s advice column! Our columnists are here to provide you helpful, or maybe not so helpful, advice. Tune in on Fridays to see what they have to say about your problems.

Q: Do you have any advice on how to stop yourself from being anxious in social situations and keep on top of things to not get overwhelmed?

As someone with first-hand experience of this, I feel you, I really do. There’s no hard and fast rule of how you can (somewhat) overcome this, but here are a few things that work for me. In the case of online classes, prepare talking points beforehand so that you’re not caught off-guard if your seminar leader calls on you. Try to remember that there are surely a few other students there who feel the same way you do. And, worst-case scenario, even if you embarrass yourself, the likelihood of you actually seeing these people in real life (especially this year) is very, very slim. As for other social situations where you choose to venture outside your comfort zone, it’s always helpful to have a ‘comfort friend’ by your side just someone you know you can count on.

I could go on and on about how in the grand scheme of things, what someone from your Monday morning seminar thinks of you has no real hold over your life, but I’m sure you’ve heard this advice done to death. Instead, let me leave you with the words of my friend right after he said something stupid (his words, not mine) during a seminar words which, largely for their unruffled self-assurance, really resonated with me:

‘At least I looked cute saying it’.

If nothing else, there’s still that.

Q: It bothers me that I have no friends.

Matthew: If it bothers you, then it bothers me too. I think sometimes it’s easy to aim to build an unrealistically huge network of friends, and I think – especially during a national lockdown – that’s pretty difficult. Go easy on yourself. We often aim to be popular (and what does that even mean anyway?), when in reality it’s the individual closer friendships that last. A wise person once said to me: “I would much rather have one perfect friendship than a thousand less meaningful.” My suggestion would be to take any opportunity you can, attend online social events, join societies, and volunteer when people need help. All it takes is for you and one other person to connect, to find that perfect spark, and you will suddenly feel far less lonely. Or just do what I do and learn to appreciate your own company, and realise that nobody is ever going to care about you as much as you can… but that’s another conversation.

If you want to submit a question, you can do so here.

Matthew Seaman

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