The Cult Of Competition

The Cult Of Competition

Northwestern's damaging culture of comparison.

I returned to school from vacation a little over a week ago feeling loose, happy, and ready to conquer my New Year’s resolutions. I felt whole, centered, and vibrant with the knowledge that I had the opportunity to spend my time working on creative endeavors like writing and upgrading my website (I only have one class this quarter). For me, time with family has a very rejuvenating, restorative quality and I came away from my break feeling like I had all of the time in the world to pursue my passions.

That is, until Monday night.

Monday night was when I realized that the career fair was the next day and I spent a few miserable hours looking through the career fair guide, wondering what consulting was and if I was being foolish for not pursuing it like the thousand of others playing-at-professional who I would encounter the next day. Tuesday and Wednesday were both spent dressing up in a way that felt as though I was pretending at some abhorrent form of adulthood that I wanted nothing to do with—my single blazer paired with the semi-wrinkled dress pants that I really shouldn’t have shoved into the back of my drawer after the last career fair. I walked around, accidentally spoke to a consultant (then quickly felt the need to tell him that I wasn’t “consulting material”), and spoke to maybe one or two employers who I was peripherally interested in, but I mostly looked around while feeling confused, less-than, and ready to leave because the career fair only caters to a certain sort of career.

Employers don’t get to go into the room where students take off their colorful snow boots and throw on their dress shoes, shrug off their backpacks—the ones with the pins that tell you what they actually care about, and commiserate with their friends. “Did you go in there?” “Yeah, you?” “No. How is it?” “Awful, dude, but you’ve got this.” If employers did get the chance, I’m sure that they would see something that they liked about those students. They would see the way that they encourage their friends and try to ease them up with laughter, the way that their mouths turn into genuine and not “for sale” smiles, and the way that they meticulously brush the dust off their clothing and bravely exit the room in hopes of something greater. To me, these things—the character of a person, their resolve, and the way they treat others—matter.

I’m not sure how I feel about the way that professionalism and grad school are shoved down our throats at NU. I know that I don’t like the "cult of competition," the way that we constantly compare ourselves to others and their accomplishments. It's the way that we’re meant to feel like failures for not living up to impossible and unknown standards, rather than defining our own purpose. It's the way that we feel guilty for not doing something important. Our parents have spent so much money on our education and we’ve spent so much time, energy, and sleepless nights aching with that endless parasitic for what? For this career fair where consultants are conceived?

My dad always says, “You’ll make your own agenda or you’ll be a part of someone else’s.” I think that Northwestern is pretty good at making you feel like you need to co-op into someone else’s agenda. I wish that NU was a school that put more emphasis on personal creativity, on disrupting unhealthy ideas of success, on whole wellness for each student, on careers that don't require 9-5 office hours, and on diligently farming success over grasping at immediate gratification.

But NU isn't that school and the unfortunate truth is that it probably never will be. So I guess that it’s on each of us to be those kids in the coat room, encouraging each other, not letting our friends be too self-critical, and making sure that we’re treating ourselves with the same loving kindness with which we treat others, telling each other that our dreams are achievable and real. No matter what we want to do--whether it's career fair approved or not--we need to make sure that we're setting our agenda, keeping ourselves to task, and pursuing it with diligent joy.

The path that we're following should bring us passion and excitement, but If it doesn't, that's OK. It's best to spend a little more thoughtful time in the coat room, where you know that you'll have people to support you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixababy

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.

I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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CBD Oil: What Is It And What Are The Different Benefits?

CBD is a natural approach to traditional medicine, and it contains healing properties.


The fascination with CBD has grown rapidly within the last year, and even within the last few months. This cannabis-like product has people interested because there are so many questions associated with it. People want to know if it's legal, if it's safe, or if it gets you high. To put it simply, CBD is known as cannabinoids, which possesses calm and tranquil properties. It does not have the psychoactive element, THC, that is normally found in marijuana. Instead, it is made from extracting CBD (cannabinoids) from the cannabis plant, and then turning it into CBD oil. It is now sold at places such as smoke shops and convenience stores. But what is so great about this anti-anxiety oil?

Most people who seek about CBD are doing so to help them relax or ease their pain. It is commonly seen in cancer treatments and for muscle recovery post-workout. It also helps with issues such as epilepsy, depression, acne, and anxiety. My dad, for example, uses a CBD lotion for his shoulder and back pain. He first heard about CBD oil through my aunt, who likes to put a few drops on her tongue daily. Ingesting it orally is, according to the smoke shop employee, beneficial for overall health. So if one is dealing with depression or anxiety, it's best to eat/drink CBD. For someone with pain in a specific spot, like my dad's shoulder pain, should look for a topical cream or something that is more direct. There are other ways to consume CBD besides tongue drops and lotion. On the market, there are different varieties of CBD gummies, such as gummy worms and sour patch. I've also seen it in oil cartridges or infused in water. In order to purchase CBD legally, you must be older than 18.

Last week my college had a venue where the School of Entrepreneurship students sold their products on campus. There were tents of all their student-run companies, and I enjoyed supporting local businesses. When I was there I bought an organic fudge brownie with 20mg of CBD (for only $5). I decided to workout and then take a bath, and eat the brownie right before the bath. It made my mental state feel very calm and it was relaxing after hitting the gym. I have also tried CBD gummy bears which taste pretty normal and those are also full-body calming effects. I am a fan of CBD and wish that is was less expensive and had easier access. It's great for college students who constantly feel the stress/pressure of their future. There are also a countless amount of celebrities who advocate for CBD. Some actors who heavily support the use of CBD are Seth Rogen, Morgan Freeman, and Tom Hanks.

Actor Seth Rogen started his own nonprofit, called Hilarity for Charity, that combats Alzheimer's. Rogen is large cannabis and CBD user, and he believes that CBD can help with Alzheimer's disease. He is an advocate for CBD law for medicinal purposes and believes that is can help with the symptoms. On Twitter, someone told Rogen that they had "restless leg" and he replied by saying "Try some CBD."

Another celebrity who has benefitted from CBD is none other than Morgan Freeman. After a 2008 car crash and developing intense fibromyalgia, Freeman decided to look into CBD treatment to help with his muscle pain. Now, he is an advocate for both cannabis and CBD because he has experienced the healing properties. Freeman believes in plant-based medicine because it is the more natural route.

Tom Hanks is one of the largest celebrities who has been an advocate for CBD. He developed type 2 diabetes over the years from stress and poor diet; Hank recently teamed up with a Cornell University student to study the medicinal properties of CBD for type 2 diabetes. He also enjoys it for the benefits of reducing anxiety and joint pain. Tom Hanks put it best when he said, "the benefits of CBD oil are unlike anything any pill or medication can do."

The following article has demonstrated all the different benefits that CBD oil has to offer. It is a more natural and holistic approach to traditional pharmaceutical medicine. I hope that in the next few years, cannabinoids become more popularized and the stigma behind cannabis medicine is dropped.

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