College Students Under Pressure

By Alina Hansen

As a college student, I constantly find myself stressing out. Not only do I have to work to support myself while going to school, but I have to constantly be aware of how much time I have. I always find myself running out of time, whether it’s writing a paper the night before it’s due or finishing a cover letter for an internship application. Then, I begin to panic.

Panic and stress is more of a state of being for college students because it often seems endless. A persistent anxiety arises to the point where we find ourselves sleeping less and eating junk while on the verge of a breakdown. We are constantly under pressure to succeed academically, professionally and socially. There is too much time spent trying to achieve perfection when all that is desired is just to achieve.

Speaking from experience of caving under pressure, I dropped out for a year. I remember the day I decided to quit school. It was the first week of classes at the start of my junior year, and I couldn’t do it. I took a day off and spent a few hours at a park thinking about what I was going to do. In the end, I called my dad and told him my decision. He was hesitant and voiced his opinion on the basis he never got the chance to go to college. As for my mom, she was enthusiastic since she is a self-made entrepreneur who never pursued higher education. They both expressed their concern about my decision when it came to the job opportunities a degree could provide. I spent my year off mainly working on my art — sketching and painting while also developing my writing skills — but I was stuck working a full-time minimum wage job at a corporate coffee shop where I was continually belittled by customers and my manager.

Not only did my job suck, but I noticed almost everyone I knew who was a few years older than me had gotten themselves stuck. These people were stuck working horrible minimum wage jobs for multiple reasons, but a commonality I found was they didn’t attend college or they didn’t finish. This scared me because I knew if I didn’t get my act together I would be in the exact same situation. I also considered the people I knew who had degrees but could not find jobs, and it began to feel like I had no future no matter what I did. My desire to be a writer became my main focus and I soon realized I could only learn so much on my own. I knew if I wanted to have a professional writing career I would have better odds with a degree, so I went back to school, and I quit the coffee house to find other work.

The pressure to get a job after graduation is stifling and there is a nagging doubt that festers in the back of students’ minds that the debt may not be worth it. Even though the future may seem daunting and the work is hard, it is important to take time off, relax and remember that in the end it is worth it. Having time to breathe and reflect is priceless, whether it’s 15 minutes of meditation or an entire year. The future will come and whatever we do today will help to determine tomorrow. Use each minute wisely, but don’t forget about yourself and what you need to do to center your mind so you can accomplish anything.

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