Column by Hallie Beard, Opinion Editor
As graduation approaches for me and many of my friends, I’m noticing more and more when people make that dreadful statement: “just wait until you graduate/get a real job/support yourself. Then you’ll understand what stress/anxiety/tiredness really is.”
I love telling people who complain about being stressed to get over it, mainly because I’m the biggest complainer I know and need to be told that often. And though I’ve looked back on my struggles from freshman, sophomore or junior year and laughed, too, I can’t help but be a little annoyed when people minimize a college student’s stress.
Once you’re out of something, it’s hard to regain the understanding or remember the feelings you had while you were in it. When high school students complain, I have to remind myself how much griping I did, too, over things that now seem very insignificant or easy to manage.
But what we have to remember before laughing at or condescending younger friends, family members or colleagues is that, if they are in a specific stage of life like high school, college or even being unmarried or unemployed, that is their reality. They cannot minimize their issues because those issues are the only ones they know. Sure, I don’t know how hard it is to raise children or have a mortgage, but that’s just it – I literally do not know what those experiences are like because I haven’t reached them yet. So if I complain about homework, it’s not because I think that is more challenging than having a “real” job. It’s only because I haven’t encountered anything more challenging yet.
The idea that college students are silly or immature for complaining about our workloads also bothers me because our schedules are often legitimately intense. For example, my Monday consists of five hours of class time, two hours of work at one of my jobs, and anywhere from two to five hours of reading, writing and other homework to complete once I get home. That means when I wake up Monday morning (usually not well-rested from staying up late doing work the night before), I know I won’t be done with my scheduled work until 8 p.m. and my homework until around midnight on an average night. Then, I get another night of non-restful sleep followed by a usually eight to twelve-hour day in the newsroom (which is nothing compared to how long our Editor-in-Chief is here) with class sandwiched in there, too.
Oh, yeah – and I have to schedule some time to eat food, because that’s a thing humans should definitely do throughout the day.
Even though my schedule seems dreadful to me, I know there are students who have it even worse. More classes, more jobs, less support, less time. On the other hand, I know students who don’t have nearly as many academic or extracurricular commitments – but I tell myself every day not to envy them or assume their lives are easier than mine. Maybe John Doe has fewer classes than I do or doesn’t work during the week, but maybe he’s struggling with mental or physical problems I know nothing about, or maybe he views one of my easiest tasks as one of his most difficult.
In this at-times horrible buffet line of college, everyone has a plate that is full. The foods will vary from plate to plate, and some foods might seem to not have any substance, but each student will no doubt eat what they can and have plenty leftover to deal with.
As we prepare for the last stretch of the semester, let’s remember that all of us, no matter where we are in our careers, have valid reasons to be stressed. Instead of looking down on someone who has it easier than you, from your perspective, do them a favor and share your wisdom if you know their situation so well. Be a friend, and always aim to enlighten, not condemn.