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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The stress. The anxiety. The worry. All of us have those moments where we’re completely overwhelmed by the amount of work college demands. While we try our best to finish everything as quickly (and as accurately) as possible, we sometimes digress into a state of despair and self-doubt when our hard work isn’t giving us the results we want. At some point, we begin feeling so helpless and depressed that we retreat into our shell, away from our peers and the people who care about us the most. We’re frustrated, confused, lonely, and don’t really know what to do. Eventually, with everything piling on top of us one after the other, we snap.

College can be a tough time for a lot of  students. Whether you’re trying to fit in or trying to survive classes, I think we can all agree that college life isn’t perfect. However, there comes a time when things just don’t feel good and you’re not feeling the same way towards things as you used to. Sure, everything seems fine but you’re just not happy with where you’re at right now. You’re exhausted and unmotivated; you just want the semester to end now. Feeling stressed out is one thing, but feeling burnout is a whole other issue.

Pressure and Expectations

Entering college, I think a lot of us unintentionally place a large amount of pressure on ourselves. We worked unbelievably hard in high school to get where we are today, and so as soon as we enter college we expect ourselves to start off strong. At first, things seem like they’re going fine (and they are), but once we get deeper into the semester we’re not feeling as confident as we did going into the semester.

I think one of the worst things to feel in college is disappointment. Imagine this: You’re in a class working hard. You stay up late to work on assignments and study for exams. As you’re going through the semester, you notice your grades aren’t as good as you want them. You then work and study as hard as you can. Nothing improves. Getting this feeling is absolutely frustrating and disappointing and can certainly upset many people, including myself.

Look, I may not know much about each and every student’s college experience, but from what I know, hard work does eventually pay off. You’re probably going to feel immense pressure to do well in all of your classes, especially if you excelled in all of your classes in high school. But this isn’t high school. There are people around you who have worked just as hard to get where they are today and deserve to be there. It sucks when people are showing off their 4.0 GPA’s or bragging about how well they did on that last test. However, the truth is, none of that matters because you are who YOU are. Do the best that YOU can and that’s what counts.

Isolation

Finding the right group of people is hard, especially for introverts like myself. You think, “Oh there’s thousands of other freshman who don’t know many people, I’m bound to be friends with one of them.” This is a good thought, but maybe not realistic.

I know many other people disagree, but I think that finding friends in college can be extremely difficult. There are probably going to be a lot of people you meet within the first few weeks of classes as everyone begins the new semester. However, once those first few weeks are over it seems as if everyone has their own little group and sometimes you get left out of those groups of people.

Now before you accuse me of lacking faith in the friendliness of other people, I’m not saying that people intentionally form their own group of friends to single people out. Rather, I think it’s difficult for some people to maintain contact with others because of their lack of connection. Basically what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to keep up with people when their schedules are so different. You meet so many people within the first few weeks of class, but let’s face it: how many of them are you going to remember or talk with by the end of the semester?

Nevertheless, finding people you feel the most comfortable with is important in college. Whether you like hanging around people or not, try pushing yourself to go out and meet new people. The best way to make friends is through your classes, because you’ll be seeing them on a weekly (if not daily) basis. If you’re still having trouble making friends, definitely utilize some of the student services your school offers. While they can’t help you make friends, they can definitely help guide you to resources and organizations that cultivate lifelong friendships.

Fitting In

Are you that awkward duck in the middle of the pond? Yup, that’s me alright. I think one of the most difficult parts about being in college is feeling at ease. With homework assignments and exams galore, there isn’t always a lot of time to think about where you’re at in terms of fitting in. However, it can sometimes take a toll on people as it did for me. I felt like I was sort of fitting in with the general population of students, but somehow I felt a personal disconnect from everyone. I talked with people from time to time, but it just didn’t feel the same as high school.

If you’re a college student still transitioning from high school to college, there are plenty of other people who are still having trouble fitting in. I have to admit, even though my school has a smaller student body than some other schools, I sometimes feel like I’m just there. I go to school, do homework, and take tests. That’s it. I know this is probably hard to hear, but things take time. You’re still transitioning, and this feeling is absolutely normal. As you go through the semester, you’ll likely find your way through things and be able to finally enjoy your college experience.

The College Burnout

College can be a rewarding experience for many people interested in learning and growing in a different environment. Compared to high school, the possibilities seem endless. However, college life can be difficult for some people as well, particularly those who are still transitioning from high school to college. While college can bring exciting new opportunities to students, it can also provide additional stress and anxiety with the amount of work and energy demanded.

If you’re feeling college burnout at any time, take some time to relax. Yes, I realize that you have things to work on and study for, but let’s be honest: are you really going to be productive when you’re feeling that bad? Don’t push yourself over the edge; it’s just not worth it.

On another note, try not to give yourself a hard time when it comes to grades. Although academics is central to the college experience, don’t allow yourself to become involved only in academics. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s going to suck. But yet, we’re all human. No one’s perfect. You can continue to beat yourself down over your grades, but what good is that going to do? There’s so much more to life than just grades. Your happiness comes first. You might argue that good grades equal greater job opportunities and more money. Look at the expectations you’ve created. They’re nothing unreasonable or anything, but realize what you’re doing to yourself. You’re tired. You’re unhappy. You feel like giving up. Is this the way to live?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pay attention to your academic performance in college, but make sure that you give yourself some credit once in a while. You’re in college. You have an opportunity that others can only dream of. Be proud of yourself for all you’ve achieved. You’ve made it this far. Give yourself a pat on the back and feel proud of everything you’ve done thus far. You deserve it.

College burnout isn’t enjoyable and can almost always affect your college life. That being said, there are other things that can also hinder you from succeeding and being happy in college. To be honest, I’m really struggling in college right now, not just academically. There are days that I feel like I’m at the top of the world and then there are others when I’m in the gutter of despair. You’ve probably heard of this a million times, but college is what you make of it. Be happy, be sad, be angry – that’s your choice. However, know that you deserve to be there, and don’t ever doubt that. Sure, you might have doubts about why you’re there but think about this: you’re there already. Shouldn’t you make the most of what you have now?

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