Being in college is hard--you’re on your own, technically an adult, but not quite ready to be independent. You have immense responsibilities like taking challenging classes and getting involved on campus, networking and finding internships or jobs, and struggling to have a life in the process. At Colgate, you can witness these stressful moments taking a toll on the students. You’d probably be able to see this in students at any college or university.
People deal with it in different ways. Some students prefer to party hard and push back their work to let loose and not think about the seven papers and three exams they have coming up. Others prefer to buckle down, sequester themselves in the library for most of their days and drown themselves in caffeine to keep going. The sad reality of college life is that this kind of stress is seriously detrimental in terms of mental health, but it’s seemingly unavoidable. At some point, you’re going to have to face the challenges of keeping up with school, work, volunteering, clubs, sports, desperately begging for jobs, and making it seem all normal and that you’re not dead inside.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am dead inside. Dead from exhaustion and unnecessary stress. People have asked me, “Why are you always so busy?” And I respond with a weak smile, “I don’t know! It’s like ahhh all the time, so busy!” And then I sigh because I know exactly why I’m so stressed out and why I took on all these projects for myself. It’s because I’d been told my whole life, by my parents, relatives, guidance counselors, career services, and others, that I need to do things. I need to jam-pack my schedule full of garbage for my resume to make it seem like I’m well-rounded, involved, and to have it stand out to employers. Well, if you look deeper into the resume of any college student, you’ll see that they’re all the same--they’re stressed out and haven’t wanted to participate in half the stuff they’ve listed as their “experience” or “hobbies.”
Anyone who says they have a hobby is a liar. Are you kidding me? No hobbies allowed in this capitalist wasteland! Anything you do for “enjoyment” must be turned profitable somehow. But, you must market it as a hobby in order to seem humble.
What happens when you just can’t deal with all of this? When you can’t help but break down? Some people choose to vent to their friends or family, and other choose to say nothing, to take it all upon themselves to cope. I used to prefer the latter. I’d make it seem like everything was fine and I’d figure everything out on my own. Unfortunately, this was a consequence of how I was raised. “Suck it up,” “stop complaining,” and “figure it out” were common phrases during my childhood. I learned to “power through,” but that doesn’t mean I’m not as stressed or even depressed as many of my friends in school; I've just been conditioned to "deal with it." But do I actually deal with it? No. It's all been building up to result in various damages to my body and psyche (pretty sure I gave myself an ulcer recently).
Clearly the better option, for me and for other college students, is to talk about our struggles more and have someone to vent to for the times when it’s all too much. Anyone who tells you to “stop stressing out” is not properly supporting you. When you have this much on your plate, simply stopping is not an option. Talk to someone--a friend, a sibling, parent, counselor, professor--just make sure it’s someone who can understand what you’re going through and will validate your feelings.