It’s four a.m. on a Wednesday morning. Only hours before, the IC staff and I finished another amazing newspaper. I headed home, hoping to fall right into bed, but instead I have to finalize two papers for my English classes, fix a presentation for a communication class and finish reading 25-odd pages of textbook for another class. I can’t skip off into dreamland quite yet, and, sadly, I have to be up at seven in order to be on campus by eight for another full day of classes.
Stress. You can see it in the bags under my eyes, the constant chatter of my cell phone and the shortening of my words as the day goes by. ‘Stressful’ is just one word my friends and I use to describe our lives. Hectic, crazy and absurd are others. We are stressed constantly: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Now that I’m one semester away from my senior year of college, I finally understand the junior year stress. Free time no longer exists, student loans are crossing my mind and LinkedIn is the new Facebook. I spend so much of my time thinking about the future, which suddenly doesn’t seem so far away.
I’m stressing myself out. Most of us are. You don’t have to be in college and you don’t even have to have anything to really worry about. I freak out over the littlest of things. I stress when I get a new email, when I see how much laundry I have to do, when I don’t drink enough water and especially when I read the news. My calendar is packed and each day adds a new little event to tack on. I’m overloaded. I have stress, stress and stress.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why did I add on a new group and a part-time job last semester? Why do students continually get involved?
The answer is simple: We want to. I want to be busy. I want to be stressed. It doesn’t make much sense to my mental health, but I like having stuff to do. I have the good kind of stress: the kind that makes me want to attend five different events in one day because I need to take it all in.
College is my time to experience new things and meet new people. I want to expand myself professionally in a fraternity (Rush Zeta!), I want to write about something new each week and I want to ace my classes. I take around 18 credit hours each semester because I don’t want to miss out on a new class. It’s why I took an anatomy class last semester instead of a basic science class. I want to do more.
I like going that extra mile. If I get a little more stressed out about a certain project than I should, it doesn’t matter.
That extra stress means that I care. Worrying is my way of getting the job done. Often I worry a little too much, but it’s taken care of pretty quickly with a ‘Dude, chill tf out’ text from my friends. They get it. I send them the same texts just as often.
Being busy just makes the time I spend by myself all that much sweeter. I appreciate the sunrise almost every morning, even when it wakes me up earlier than I have to be awake. I find little breaks in my life to smile and laugh.
It’s not all constant running. Anytime that I get lunch with friends, it gets put into my calendar, circled with a heart.
Stressing myself is my personal mission. I aim to make my life happy and do things that will make me happy. It sounds shallow, but it’s actually deeper than that. Even if I want to sleep in and miss all my classes, I pull my butt out of bed and drive to school because it will make me happier to have better grades than those extra three hours of sleep. It’s about short- and long-term goals.
To me, stress and happiness go hand in hand. I know it’s not that way for everybody, but it could be. Busy yourself with the things you like doing. Go to those Zumba classes on a regular basis. Knit 50 hats in one month for children with cancer. There are so many things in the world to try. Do yourself a favor and be happy in doing. I certainly am.
Emily Schnipke is the IC’s managing editor. She is a third-year communication student with a minor in English.