Our student years are nothing compared to the stress of the real world
Venting about how “busy” we are has become the easy go-to topic when making small talk with our friends. Walk through the library and you can hear the familiar exclamation of “Urgh, I don’t have the time right now, I’m too busy with x deadlines and y work!” I myself am definitely a hypocrite. I always whine to my friends on the stress I feel about writing articles between studying for a test and going to a practice kayaking session. However, I recognise that we should stop complaining about how busy we are because it is not like we are facing actual hardships.
Earlier in the school year, I wrote an article on feeling overwhelmingly stressed in balancing all my responsibilities. I was exhausted from feeling like “I run a marathon every week”. I still stand by my previous article because I still feel the same way at times. After all, my responsibilities have not changed; I still have the deadlines, the societies, and a part-time job. However, I think my attitude has changed where I have now learned to forgive myself and instead occasionally step back in order to keep a positive attitude.
The message that I really want to send is that even though we may be busy with a mountain of responsibilities, it is okay to sometimes take rests before reaching the peak.
Firstly, we ourselves are the ones who accepted these responsibilities. We chose to go to this university, join specific societies, and make certain friends. No one is forcing you. Instead, we have chosen this path because, at the end of the day, we want to be busy. Life would be meaningless without the challenges and opportunities that we as a society (and as individuals) set for ourselves.
Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is instructive here. It’s about two men who talk nonsense while they endlessly wait for someone named Godot. This play strangely impacted me because it taught me that we as a society try to create as many distractions as possible to amuse ourselves from our otherwise empty lives. Studying for the test to get a university degree, or joining a society to get to know people, are the challenges and opportunities that we have decided to add into our lives to make our existences meaningful.
Take all our responsibilities away – the deadlines, the societies, the social life – what is the worst that could happen? You get a bad score, you don’t get that internship, you miss out on that fun night out: but it won’t make a huge dent on your future. (Trust me, one bad grade will not hinder you from your future career successes). I’m not forgetting that there are those in St Andrews who are definitely facing actual hardships and responsibilities, but this article is not addressed to them. I am addressing those who believe that one of their biggest struggles is feeling swamped with deadlines and doing as many activities as possible. Considering that St Andrews admits one of the highest proportions of private school students in the UK, and that Scotland provides lots of support and opportunities to prevent absolute poverty, I’m assuming that I am writing to the general population. We have made ourselves busy with responsibilities that would not have dire consequences if we do not fulfil them.
Therefore, the ability to declare that being busy is our biggest problem is a privilege. Most of us currently hold no responsibilities of an actual full-time job, a marriage, or health difficulties. We are not living in poverty, we are not facing abuse and prostitution, we are not losing loved ones. We are extremely lucky to be protected in a bubble that amuses us with false challenges and real opportunities that only helps us in our respective futures.
It is only going to feel “busier” once we leave the bubble. We are most likely going to face hardships with real life-altering consequences. Once we reach that stage, we are probably going to look back and romanticise how fun it was to be busy with fun responsibilities. Think about it – just look back on your time in high school and think about how defeated you felt with all the workload you had to conquer to get to where you are now. Truth is, we always “felt busy” and we will always “feel busy”.
At the end of the day, we have nothing to actually stress about. Nothing that we do in this bubble will affect the world. Next time you are complaining about how you feel stressed with all the deadlines, check yourself. Being busy is a privilege and we should appreciate it.