We’ve all heard it. Heck, most of us have probably said it ourselves.
“Ugh, I wish I could — I just have so much going on right now.”
The seemingly ever-present “humble-brag” has become somewhat of a staple in our culture, particularly among us so-called Millennials. We have created a culture that glamorizes stress and back-breaking despite everyone’s protestations that burning the candle at both ends will cause unnecessary trouble in the long run.
If it’s not you who’s taking an overload of courses while spear-heading two campus clubs, maintaining a part-time job, volunteering at a local animal shelter and TA-ing for your favorite professor’s most difficult class, then it’s probably someone you know.
Last semester, I experienced the most stress I think I ever have (except maybe my time as a sixth-grader — being captain of Safety Patrol had its downfalls). I won’t get into the gory details, but I managed to pull through and then swore to myself that I would never do that to myself again. Not that I don’t have ambition, but the number of sleepless nights, cups of coffee, crying fits and missed showers I faced during that time was way too high. Not to mention, the amount of colds and coughs that I picked up made it even more difficult for me to face my ever-growing pile of responsibilities.
To be frank, throughout it all, I found a sort of gratification in picking my head up in the ACC or the Cardinal Points office and exchanging exhausted glances and eye rubs with my peers who were as worn-out as I was — not to mention how “college” I felt when I found time to answer my concerned mother’s phone calls, making sure I was taking care of myself.
After I returned home for winter break and slept for the first few days, I decided I could no longer sacrifice my mental and physical health, as well as my relationships, all for some masochistic sense of accomplishment.
According to a June 2014 Harvard Business Review article, this culture is egged on by the “unholy trinity” of smartphones, social media and extreme consumerism.
“The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload,” HBR writer Greg McKeown said in his article. “We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we ‘should’ be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we back-door-brag about being busy: it’s code for being successful and important.”
It is important for us as college students to find the line between healthy involvement and unnecessary stress. At the end of the day, the padding of our resumes will never be a sufficient substitute for the comfort of our own beds.
Email Maggie McVey at firstname.lastname@example.org