The Crimson White

A lack of humanity breeds stress

Sarah Howard

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This past week I was stressed out. Two weeks before that, I was stressed out. The week before that, well I’m sure you can see the pattern by now. As college students we tend to put ourselves under a lot of stress in order to get a job or the right post-secondary school. This stress can be healthy at times, motivating us to do our best and keeping us from slacking off. Unfortunately, I myself have learned how the line between healthy stress and damaging stress is extraordinarily thin.

In 2015, the American College Health Association published a report with data from 148 schools across the country. A vast 86 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed by everything on their plate in the last twelve months. So not only are students stressed out by midterms or finals, they are stressed out consistently in a way that I can only attribute to a world attitude that praises over-involvement. 

When we struggle with our course-load and activities we look around us to see other people who appear to be handling the same and more just fine. Although they may be struggling too, we tend to only see the best in others which breeds feelings of inadequacy in ourselves. Students feeling overwhelmed or inadequate are never going to be their best self, and it’s this message we need to be preaching rather than asking students to struggle through four years for a few extra words on a resume.

The University has tried to handle the problem of stress in a multitude of ways, increasing awareness and, most ironically, offering the Stress Free Daze events before finals. I don’t know who planned that, but the students that are the most stressed out definitely don’t find it logical to waste time studying for finals to participate in some arts and crafts. Deadlines and examination dates loom over students’ minds enough to discourage leaving their seat in Gorgas for anything. 

Cutting the University some slack, this problem is too expansive for one school to even solve for their own students, rather the American culture needs a makeover. We tell ourselves that in order to get a job or gain admission we need to stand out. Originally this meant being the officer of a club or writing for the newspaper, but now that everyone has tried to do that we believe we need to do more to stand out yet again.

I believe that it is easiest to identify a person’s fit and potential for an opportunity through their personality alone. I have met people in leadership roles doing terrible jobs, able to scribble it down on their resume and try to use that a reason for employment. All too often, this method works. Recruiting software sifts through resumes looking for buzzwords to identify a person as a good applicant, completely removing the person from the paper. It is time that humanity becomes a part of the equation again and until that happens, the stress caused by over-involvement will not disappear. 

Sarah Howard is a junior majoring in chemistry. Her column runs biweekly. 

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A lack of humanity breeds stress