Opinion: Stress on campus isn’t a competition

Jack Kopanski

Throughout four years on a college campus, a student will experience a fluctuating range of emotions. From indescribable elation to chest-tightening anxiety, college students feel it all. Sometimes all within one day. 

While college is discussed and reminisced by many as the best times of their lives for good reason, it would be inane to think it is constant fun, parties and happiness.

One of the most important things a college student can do during their four years is be open and talk about what is going on in their lives, both good and bad. It’s a piece of advice that has been driven into the ground in recent years and has unfortunately turned into a cliche at this point.

By being in the same general age range, residing in the same areas and taking classes of similar intensities, students find it easy to bond over stress from class. Sharing stories of horrible professors, unfair assignments, how late they stayed up the night before finishing a paper or studying for a test is relatable to all.

When a student does not have as heavy of a class load or as many extracurriculars to take up their time, they clash with the typical student. The deeply-involved student will openly discuss how stressed they are about what they’ve got going on, and the student who is less busy may feel as if their problems aren’t real just because they’ve got less to do.

It isn’t always framed as harshly, but the message of “somebody always has it worse” doesn’t always alleviate stress.

It needs to be emphasized everyone’s stressors are valid. The anxiety of someone with 18 credit hours should be treated the same as someone with 12. Being overwhelmed is being overwhelmed.

You can’t know what someone else has going on outside of what they’re talking about. It’s not always the situation you hear about that is the real catalyst of their struggles.

Not only that, but moods and attitudes can change on a dime. Someone who was going about having a great day might flip to total stress by something that on any other day would not phase them. 

Sometimes, a stressed person is not looking for a solution, but only wants to vent and get their issues off their chest.

Everybody has their stressors and things that bring them down. If someone is willing and able to make themselves vulnerable enough to come to you with their problems, don’t question why they’re feeling a certain way or compare it to how much more you have to do.

Be a friend. Listen. Offer a hug, go on a walk or just let them blow let off steam for a few minutes. It could mean more than you know.

Jack Kopanski is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].