When I graduated high school, it was always emphasized that “my college years will be the best years of my life.” What nobody talked about, however, was that as I would be enjoying my college years, I would also be dealing with societal pressures, self-image, while balancing work, family and grades. That my sleep patterns will become blurred and I would constantly be thinking, “I don’t need to spend money on that, it’s just lunch.”
I have seen many of my friends study for weeks for a test. They put immense pressure on themselves to get that A. They come out from taking the test with confidence that could put anyone to shame. A week later, they get the test back. It has a big, fat, circled, red, disappointing B at the top. “How?” they wonder. They swear to themselves that they are going to study harder and longer than before.
Then, add in family and a job. Your family misses you and wants you to come home for the weekend. Now you must take time out of your schedule to ensure quality time with them. Also, you need more money. Your friends are complaining that you never want to hang out with them, but what they don’t know is that you’re saving up your money so you can hang out with them next time. So, you get a job.
Men and women also add today’s standards of looks on top of that. If a man doesn’t go to the gym at least three times a week, does he not care about himself? If a woman doesn’t have the type of body that’s most attractive, when is she going to get that fixed? College ends up being one of the most significant times for our bodies to change. We don’t look like we did three or four years ago.
So, when are we supposed to say, “stop, we have put enough pressure on ourselves”? When the bags under our eyes are so dark that we look like a zombie? When our friends start to question why we haven’t been hanging out? Or maybe when people realize that all these pressures are taking a toll on our mental wellbeings?
The answer is now. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to take pride in that B. We need to stop letting these pressures overwhelm us. Yes, grades are important, but we don’t need to be losing sleep over them. Yes, our bodies are important, but we shouldn’t let others influence our opinions of ourselves.
Find ways to destress and create a healthy image for yourself. It could be small things like taking a bath, looking through old pictures, calling family members, taking a walk outside or creating a list of things you have accomplished this month. No matter what, remember to take time for yourself out of your busy schedule.
Our college years are supposed to be some of the best times of our lives, so don’t let other things get in the way of that.