Imagine this: you walk into class and sit down at your unofficial spot among the sea of gum riddled desks. Once comfortable, eagerly awaiting the 1,000th lecture by that one professor you cannot stand, you look around and inevitably meet eyes with one of your peers. A conversation naturally begins in the typical college way:
You: “How’s your week looking?”
Peer: “Oh, you know. Test on Wednesday, philosophy paper due Thursday and five-hour shifts at work every day for the next week. I am so stressed.”
You: “Damn, that sounds bad. I have a stressful week, too. I have so much to do. I don’t know if I’ll sleep at all.”
Peer: “I am so stressed out.”
You: “Same here.”
After the obligatory conversation, each of you turn to your phones or open your notebooks scribbling nonsense in an effort to minimize the weirdness. The same interaction occurs in the business world as well, albeit with a change in subject and setting.
Step into the elevator and encounter a random person. The awkwardness between the two individuals stifles the already cramped metal box. Eventually, one person turns to the other, gives a half smile and proceeds to mention something about the weather. The second person amicably agrees with the opening statement, adding his own retort of, “The weather really is nice today.” The elevator doors open, each person walks out not saying another word.
Stress is like the weather, common and boring. Everyone and their mother deals with stress. It happens to be the common denominator in today’s society. Whenever you have a conversation with someone, he or she always brings up how much they have to do.
As soon as this happens, the person “listening” automatically becomes disinterested. Who wants to hear someone whine about their day? I sure don’t. I used to be one of those people. I would be quick to tell you that I had not slept for three days because I studied for 12 exams, wrote 45 papers and attended nine important meetings. I made sure that you knew how crazy my life was and how I didn’t have time for you and your stupidity.
My life is still hectic, however, I’d like to say I am a changed student. All thanks goes to the following quote from American columnist Florence King:
“The American way of stress is comparable to Freud’s ‘beloved symptom,’ his name for the cherished neurosis that a patient cultivates like the rarest of orchids and does not want to be cured of. Stress makes Americans feel busy, important, and in demand, and simultaneously deprived, ignored and victimized. Stress makes them feel interesting and complex instead of boring and simple, and carries an assumption of sensitivity not unlike the Old World assumption that aristocrats were high-strung. In short, stress has become a status symbol.”
The feeling of stress almost comforts the soul. When the schedule thins, people do not know what to do with their free time. Eliminate the stress, and what do you have? I’ll tell you. You have a normal life of a college student. You are not different than the person sitting next to you in macroeconomics, thermodynamics or organic chemistry.
So, reader, I give you a challenge. Attempt to not mention stress or talk negatively about your schedule for one whole day. I know, it’ll be tough, but guess how you ended up in that situation? You signed up for the classes. You joined those clubs. You did this to yourself. Deal with it.
At Thanksgiving, no one complains about their overstuffed plate when sitting down at the table. They rejoice at the amount of food in front of them and dig in like a hungry Ethiopian child who was just presented a bowl of under cooked rice and boiled meat.
You’re excited about the food and you do your best to finish everything. Sometimes you go up and get a second helping. Yes, sometimes the experience induces massive amounts of gastrointestinal pain. Through the indigestion and heartburn, you smile, only to think about the pumpkin pie waiting for dessert.