Advice Column 3/27/2021

I want to go vegan but I don’t know where to start. What do I do to transition into veganism? -Anon
Dear Anon,
First, I want to congratulate you on making this decision. It shows an obvious care for your physical health, and during something as stressful as a pandemic, this can be incredibly difficult to pursue. It’s great that you want to transition and are looking for healthy ways to do so.
I contacted a fellow vegan, Sydney Payne, for her advice on how to go about this difficult transition. 
“I went headfirst into becoming a vegan and basically just went cold turkey with all animal products. It ended horribly,” Payne admitted. She went on to speak on how difficult it can be to dive straight into veganism, and what she believes is the best way to go about it.
“I suggest you start with cutting out the meat you eat the least, and do that for a month or two. Then repeat the next few months with the second to least meat you consume, and so on and so forth. It makes it so much easier to transition,” Payne said. 
Also, incorporating whole grains and healthy alternatives to protein into your diet will give you the opportunity to get used to some foods you might not have in the past and allow you the chance to adjust to your new diet as you leisurely cut out what you wish to get rid of.
Take things slow and steady. Your transition will happen with time, as it did with Payne, and with a little patience you will become adjusted to the diet you wish to pursue. 
I wish you the best of luck with your future meals.
The Blue Banner
I’m going to be a senior next year and I am so anxious to graduate. I know I have one more year but the thought of going out into the real world scares me. -Anon
Dear Anon,
I can assure you that you are not alone in this anxiety. Graduation can be one of the scariest parts of college, especially if school is all you’ve known. It is completely understandable for you to be feeling this way and the thought that you are not the only one struggling may come as a relief. 
In the case of a pandemic, there is bound to be difficulty as you go out into the ‘real world’ away from college. Thankfully, I found an article online that lays out some plans for how to cope with this stress.
“Zooming in” is a great way to look at where you will be headed in the future. To “zoom in” essentially means to take everything one step at a time rather than zooming out and seeing your future plans as an empty landscape in which it is impossible to navigate. Take things slow and allow yourself to focus on one thing at a time. This could be one job interview at a time, or even planning out your finances for one month in advance so as to not overwhelm yourself.
Asking for feedback is another great way to cope with this unprecedented future. Asking others around you for help with interviews or asking your favorite professor what they believe some good opportunities would be after graduation are some healthy ways to go about this. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help, especially in times like these.
Lastly, allow yourself to recognize how complex your situation is. If you don’t get the interview you wanted, recognize it as it is; a hard time. People everywhere are struggling and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you will inevitably struggle as well. Take a deep breath, go as slow as you need to and give yourself a break when needed.
If you managed to adjust to college life, you will adjust to the real world as well. Keep in mind how resilient you are and you will make it further than you thought possible.
Best of Luck,
The Blue Banner
I feel like my Professor doesn’t like me. What can I do to get them to tolerate me. -Anon
Dear Anon,
Everyone will eventually come to a point in life where they feel insecure about how an advisor or teacher feels about them. This is only natural and is a sign that you are reflective of your behavior and that you are attempting to do better in the future. Aaron Snook, a drama lecturer at UNC Asheville, weighed in.
 “If someone has decided to become a teacher it’s because their students are important to them.  At the same time, teachers are people with all of their complexities both inside the classroom and out.  Everyone is fighting their own battles, often unbeknownst to everyone else.”
 Professors and lecturers go through the same issues you go through as a student, and that might lead to it seeming as though they dislike or don’t agree with specific qualities about you as a person. Fear not, there are a few ways that can help you maintain a good relationship with your professor long enough to ride out the last few weeks of the semester.
Something to take a look at is the feelings of other students around you. If they are feeling the exact same way, you may not be the only contributing factor. Oftentimes a professor will be in a bad mood and come off as unpleasant toward you alone, but that may not be the case. See how your classmates react and get the overall mood of how your professor acts toward them.
You could even do something as simple as talking with your professor after class, explaining what you enjoyed about their lecture or what you found interesting. This creates a relationship between you both. If you are concerned about speaking in person, I find it is helpful to gather some articles that relate to the class material and sending them their way, letting the professor know you are actively seeking out information outside of class. 
 “These days, I find the most helpful idea is to give each other the one thing we all need, which is a little grace,” Snook said.
Professors can easily make or break your class. It is also good to keep in mind that if none of the ways listed help, you only have a short few weeks left in the semester. Take initiative and if it doesn’t work, focus on your work in the class until you can ride it out. Then, you have a whole new semester to look forward to.
Best of Luck,
The Blue Banner
I’ve been talking to a boy who I really like for a while now, we’ve started hanging out a lot and I really like him. I think I want to propose the “boyfriends” label to him because it feels like we’re functionally boyfriends, but I also don’t want to escalate things too quickly and make a fun thing too serious. What should I do?
Dear Anon,
First off, I can see where you’re coming from with the situation of not wanting to make things too serious when your relationship is, for the most part, fun the way it is. It is incredibly important to keep things at a comfortable level for you both, which is why I feel as though a conversation about where you’re both standing with your relationship is crucial for whatever future you are headed toward.
I turned to an article describing a few ways to turn your “functionally boyfriends” relationship into something a little more serious, as long as you are both comfortable with the idea of committing. One of the most crucial things after taking initiative is to prove to your partner that you have a genuine interest in taking things to the next level. If he doesn’t receive the vibe you wish to give off in terms of making things serious, it may cause him to back away in fear of not knowing what exactly you want out of the relationship. State your intentions, why you feel the way you do and where you want to go next. This lays out a clear foundation for any future relationship and gives the impression that you truly wish to put a label on something you feel is important. 
Another principal to stick to patience. It may take time to carve a path for you both, especially if committing comes as a surprise to your partner. Don’t raise your expectations, but allow them to guide you in the direction you feel most comfortable with. 
It feels as though you wish to bring this relationship to the next level, and your sentiments should not go unnoticed. Talk things out with your “functional boyfriend” and allow yourself the courage to move forward with what the both of you are hoping for in the relationship.
Best of luck,
The Blue Banner
I like this person and I know they like me back but I’m afraid of dating again because of my past abusive relationships and ptsd.
Dear Anon,
What you’ve been through in your past is undeniably difficult to move forward with, and I’m glad you reached out to me with this specific issue in your life. It’s also notable that you have an urge to move forward despite your struggles, so I commend you for your bravery and am beyond happy that you found someone you truly like and that likes you back.
The best advice to give is to take things as slow as you need. Your partner will understand the importance of patience and hopefully will provide you with all the time in the world to continue with your relationship, so don’t feel the need to rush into anything or feel pressured to accommodate. Your feelings are crucial to your bond, so go about it as you please without the burden of expectations. I reached out to Lindsey Brock, a relationship therapist in the Asheville area, and she also emphasized the importance of patience in a relationship. 
Take things slowly, hold boundaries for yourself, and check in with friends about what you’re seeing and how you’re feeling when you’re with this person. It’s important to pay attention to any red flags you may see early on, and to make moves and hold boundaries that protect yourself and your heart if need be,” Brock said. 
Keeping up with your emotions is crucial and checking in with others allows those feelings to be discussed. Even if it’s simply with your partner, being honest about how you are coping can mean the world.
I hope you come to a happy relationship with this person and receive all the love you deserve.
Take Care,
The Blue Banner
I’ve been dealing with some bad burn-out since midterms, and really don’t know how to keep up with my work without feeling drained. Any advice? -Anon
Dear Anon,
This is definitely a more common problem most students are facing, especially during midterm week and the few weeks that follow. You have more work and less peaceful time to destress, so it’s certainly acceptable and understandable to be feeling as burnt out as you are.
For this particular submission, I asked Jay Cutspec, the director of the Health and Counseling Center at UNC Asheville, for his opinion on how to combat these strenuous times we are all facing. 
“The most important way to combat burnout is to designate a specific length of time each day for self care and stress management activities.  These activities include exercise, meditation, taking a walk, spending meaningful time with friends, or breaking up the daily routine with activities you enjoy,” Cutspec said. 
Taking the moments you do have outside of school work can be the necessary distractions you need in order to better assess what you may need, and how to go about it. 
I know these times are incredibly difficult, especially with a pandemic still looming over our heads, but completing midterms also means you are more than halfway through the stressful semester. With this in mind, there’s a definite light at the end of the tunnel just waiting for you to relight the flame you had at the beginning of the semester.
Keep calm and worry-free,
The Blue Banner