Dear Ms. Informed,
How do I navigate group projects? I feel like I can never get everyone on the same page, and there is always at least one person who completely blows it off.
- Stressed Student
Dear Stressed Student,
Ah, yes. The good old group project. The tangled mess of group chats, the miscommunication, that awesome moment when one person does all the work and gets no credit for it. Unfortunately, part of learning to work in the world means learning to work with other people, so group projects are here to stay.
It all comes down to what you have to do for the grade. How much work can you put in to do a reasonably good job, and how can you make that as simple as possible? Group projects are frustrating, but they’re usually for a short period of time and then you move on.
First of all, get a sense of the people you’re in the group with. Do they contribute a lot in class? Do they hang back and not care? Do they have input but seem shy about it? That’ll tell everyone who is best suited to what task.
When you first meet up with the group, make everything as clear as possible. Everyone needs to know the timeline of the assignment, and where their individual contributions fit in. Successful group projects I’ve done in the past have worked because we delegated tasks to each other and distributed the workload. If everyone knows exactly what they need to do and what the deadline is, it’s harder for them to wiggle out of the work.
Consider getting a Google Doc going. It helps to have a written record to refer to, not only for organization and outline of the project, but as a reminder of who exactly needs to be contributing what and where the blame goes if a part of the project is lacking.
Communicate regularly, but reasonably. Group chats are helpful, but if there are a billion messages in a group chat at least one member will turn notifications off, and that does nobody any good. Talk to each other about what you need to do, and stay on top of people, but do it during times when they are likely to be on campus or doing schoolwork anyway.
If everyone in the group does care but all end up talking over each other, remember to step back and listen to what other people have to say. The most important thing to come out of your collaboration is a good grade, so if that means conceding your own vision for somebody else, just do it.
Also, be open to getting along with group members. Group projects aren’t always the worst, and I’ve met some cool people that way. Other students can serve as resources for you in class that you might not have reached out to otherwise.
You got this. It’ll be over soon.
Dear Ms. Informed,
I’ve been unlucky in love my whole life. I can’t seem to find the right person. I told myself that I would find someone last year, but all I found were disasters. People have told me I’m young and that I have my whole life ahead of me, but I’m tired of waiting for someone who hasn’t shown up for over 20 years. What should I do?
- Miss Fortune
Dear Miss Fortune,
I feel for you. There is a loneliness around romance that is somehow more painful than many other kinds of loneliness, especially this time of year.
It’s also endlessly grating to hear that “the right person will come someday” when every passing day shows you no evidence of that happening. The future is all well and good, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain now.
The first thing I would say is acknowledge for yourself that your pain in this moment is real. While you will find the right person someday if you keep looking, the wait sucks. It has to suck, because your capacity to feel love is so important to who you are. We hurt because we feel, especially when those feelings have nowhere to go.
The next step depends on where you are at this moment on your journey. Have you truly put yourself out there, or are you waiting for the perfect person to appear in your life? If you want to find someone, you need to open yourself up to the world. I’m not necessarily talking about dating apps or anything, as I do not think that they guarantee success. I’m also not saying that you should walk into any new environment on the prowl for your someone.
It starts with you. People are attracted to confidence, and the more confident you are in yourself, the more people are going to be drawn to you. Look for groups where you’ll meet people who share your interests but do it because you like those things. When you’re doing your thing and owning it, the people who support you in those endeavors will find you.
If you have been putting yourself out there and trying relationships that fail, maybe — and you’ll need to figure out how to reconcile yourself to this — you need to take a break from trying to find someone and focus on who you are. You have to live with yourself longer than anybody else, including a significant other.
In the meantime, love comes in many forms. Strengthen the love you have for your family and friends, and all the people who invest in you. Find your circle. True friends will support you through difficult relationships, and your bond with them is a crucial part of who you are.
Also (and this is a little flowery, but I mean it), love your life and the world you live in. Fall in love with a walk in the woods, a cozy window seat, the feeling of a cat brushing against your legs or the sound of a pen on paper. It may feel hollow to do these activities when you don’t have someone to share them with, but are they not still worthwhile for how beautiful they are as human experiences? Remember, there is a season for everything.
Your life has so much fulfillment to bring you that doesn’t rely on romance. While you are not shallow for wanting those things, it would be very sad to miss all the fantastic and lovely things the world has to offer you in the pursuit of someone who isn’t ready to arrive in your life yet.
Best of luck this February, and remember: Valentine’s Day is just a day, and one way you can love yourself is taking advantage of all the candy on sale right afterward. Maybe you’ll lock eyes with someone who is also pulling cheap bags of Hershey Kisses off the shelves.
Graphic by Lexi Petri.