I know I’m not the only one who feels way more vulnerable here in Cambridge than they would at home. All of a sudden, it’s much harder to run away – even if you try and hide in your room, you can hear people’s lives and laughter continuing on without you on your staircase or out in the street, and you can’t open Facebook or your emails without being bombarded by everyone else’s fun. So, when something goes wrong, there’s no escape.
The thing is though, we’ve all experienced a break-up, to some extent or another. The end of any relationship or friendship can leave us waking up in the morning with that same sickening realisation that today is not going to be a good day. Suddenly, we know that it’s one of those days where it’s going to be so much harder than usual to fight the battle of convincing ourselves that life carries on and that we’re stronger than this. And despite the fact that we’ve all been there before, sometimes the Cambridge bubble can produce its own extra set of complications and trap all these fears and feelings in for way longer than we’d like. What happens when you have to see them in lectures every day, when all your friends know all their friends or when walking to Sainsbury’s means passing the shop where you once bought them a gift to cheer them up? Sometimes it feels like Cambridge life is building memories upon memories in the same old places, until it becomes impossible to let them go.
But it is possible, and it’s essential. We’re young, so it’s almost inevitable that sometimes relationships don’t work and friendships turn out to be unhealthy. Not holding on to the people whose contributing role in our lives is over is part of self-care and will make us happier in the end.
Getting over a break-up
When things got difficult I tried to do whatever I could – getting out of my room, out of college, out of the bubble – that would allow me to bask in this sort of perspective. For those in these situations I’d really recommend trying something new, whether that’s signing up to an event that catches your eye on Facebook, exploring a new part of Cambridge, or perhaps reconnecting with some friends that you haven’t seen for a while. After all, letting things go is about not getting stuck in the same old habits and thoughts, and anything that injects some variety into our lives or represents a change of pace is a really great step.
It’s also worth considering what happens when things aren’t so clear cut. What if we’re concerned about a friendship and we don’t know whether it really is unhealthy? How can we justify distancing ourselves from someone we regularly spend time with? Our little Cambridge community does nothing for helping the confusion that can accompany these situations, but we can’t do a whole lot more than be honest and remember that the people we associate with shouldn’t always make us doubt ourselves or cause us to feel down. There doesn’t even always have to be someone at fault – in our pressured and structured lives we simply have to allow ourselves to recognise the influence that others have on us, and whether or not it’s healthy. After all, we each only have a few years at here at university, so we may as well spend it investing purely in the people that never fail to make us smile.