Behind the straight “A” transcripts, the prestigious academic titles, and endless work hours is a student who struggles with their own self-care. I must confess, one of them is me.
College brings about the excitement of this new sort of independence that often comes with the tendency to neglect one’s own well-being. As such, we need to acknowledge this sort of cultural acceptance of college as something we need to fix.
Dark circles form under sleepless eyes that have ceaselessly skimmed through every page of notes, coffee and ramen-fueled stomachs give way to the phenomenon jokingly referred to as the freshman fifteen, and anxiety inducing deadlines make you wish that last cigarette would just last a little bit longer.
College is a social life killer, a stress inducing cesspool of unhealthiness that makes us dream of naps, a short mental escape from the walls of adulthood.
Who or what is to blame for our tendency towards self-neglect?
The answer is many things. Yet one thing is for sure, and that is the necessary shift in perspective to put our own health beyond anything and anyone.
I know that this may seem like a selfish and almost impossible task.
Many of us have been raised with the mentality that hard work will lead us to a path of success and guaranteed happiness.
However, there is a pure distinction between what even our own parents understood about college in contrast to this present belief that self-sacrifice is necessary for the sake of financial stability.
We see this through the rigorous lifestyles that often accompany majors in nursing, engineering, pre-med, and an endless sea of promising careers that often lead students spiraling down an unhealthy path of self-neglect.
Don’t get me wrong, I fervently look up to this straight-up badassery. The willpower to keep striving is unparalleled to most people’s work ethic. Yet, in the long run, our educational system needs to stress the importance of health just as much as it stresses the importance of perseverance.
We lose sleep to keep up our grades, we neglect our dietary needs because of what little healthy food we can afford, and we tend to skip trips to the gym because there simply is no time.
Being in our early 20s, this is the time in which we should start practicing healthier habits, yet not strictly in a physical sense.
As a student applying to graduate school, I’ve countlessly struggled with the fear and anxiety of failing. It took some time for me to grasp that a single “A” on an exam is but a single drop of rain in this collective sea we call life.
If we all take a step outside of our present qualms, outside this town, and outside this world, the miniscule details that comprise our grades and little achievements that we deem so important aren’t what we truly want to define our whole existence.
Life is too short.
Take that weekend road trip with your friends and loved ones, your hours of studying can sometimes wait. Binge watch a whole Netflix series if you have to. Bury yourselves in emotionally enriching journeys through books, trips to the museum, or a date at the zoo. Envelop yourself in the heavy music at that one concert you’ve always wanted to go to.
If life is feeling a little out of your own control, take that mental day off; whether it be from work, class, or other commitments.
It may seem unorthodox to periodically let go of your responsibilities but we are human and we aren’t meant to sit on chairs for hours at a time regurgitating vocabulary and cramming calculus equations in our already tangled minds.
Take a look at where you presently stand and remember the instances within your own life where it almost seemed impossible to keep going. If today is one of those days, remember how far you’ve come and remember that you can overcome any beast that adulthood hurls at you.
Along the way, remember that perfection is never truly achieved and acknowledging that almost proves to be releasing.