Of the Average College Student

Wish we could turn back time. To the good old days. When our mamas sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.

Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out” is probably the song of the average college student, and plays overhead as Dylan and I do homework at Brew -n- Bake, our favorite locally-owned coffee shop in our hometown.

“It’s overplayed,” Dylan complains, and he’s probably right about that, but I commented on how accurate the song is, when he caught me staring out the window lip-syncing along, and that’s not any less true. It’s very accurate, and some days I’d give up anything just to be a kid again for an afternoon. I don’t remember my mom ever singing me to sleep, but, you know, that’s fine. As long as the stress is taken off—that’s what would matter. To go back to the “good old days” where all I really had to stress about was bringing home a B on my report card in math, and whether or not my friends were really my friends.

I guess from one point of view, the trade-off now is worth it, because I have real friends, and don’t have to worry about what they really think. Shoutout to Bianca, Emily, and Melissa, my three French friends on campus: when it comes to our French classes, you girls make it all worth it, and I don’t know what I’d do without you. The downside, though, is that I stress about every major assignment: every test, every exam, every presentation, in my French classes and even my English classes, which never used to affect me like this. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming, to the point that, last semester, my mom asked me if I’d rather drop my French major and just do it as a minor, and drop being in the Honors college. I told her no, of course, but she doesn’t know how much it means to me that she asked. That it would be okay if I wanted to do that. It takes me back to one day, probably two years ago now in the fall, she came into my room and found me crying with my English homework spread across my bed in front of me, and a math problem scribbled across the back of a piece of paper: I was calculating what it would take for me to earn an A in that class for the semester, after one bad exam grade and only two more exams to go: it was a lot, and I was having a panic attack because of the stress and anxiety I was experiencing. She’s often told me that if I need to see a psychiatrist about anxiety, I can do that, and some days I consider it. A couple of semesters into UH, I diagnosed myself with generalized anxiety disorder, though I’ve never seen anybody about it or attempted to do anything about it. Being self-diagnosed, I’m not even sure how accurate it is, but maybe it also serves an explanation for how neurotic I can be.

Everybody says I’m too hard on myself. I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe it is, but even if it is, I’d rather my parents and Dylan and my friends tell me that I need to cut myself some slack, than have them tell me that I’m not working hard enough. Because already, I tell myself that, all the time.

I know how important it is to slow down, unwind, and take time to love yourself. I believe in that. But the fact seems to be that I just run on stress, and in my head, I’m still pushing myself often to do better. To run more on coffee and less on sleep. Stay up late, write. I can sleep when I’m dead. Not that I’ve been doing any of that—maybe it’s good I have a love affair with my bed. Maybe that’s how I unwind. Sleep.

For now, though, there’s no time for that, so it’s coffee and French homework.