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Stranger Than Fiction

Stress seems to be the foundational component of being a college student today. I feel like all I hear is I’m drowning or you wouldn’t understand what it’s like to take 15 credits and work 30 hour weeks.

Photo: Bobby Jones

I guess these people are sort of right. I have had the privilege of working jobs in college that I love. On top of this, my classwork has been nothing less than deeply enjoyable. I have worked, at any given moment in my collegiate career, at least three jobs, each with at least a 10 hour per week requirement. I generally hover around 15 credit hours per semester with the exception of the summer wherein I took 6.

As I reflect on my collegiate career, there hasn’t been all that much stress. Of course, there’s the occasional tight deadline or professor that gives me a headache, but these have proven to be minor hurdles in an otherwise life-changing collegiate experience.

A study by Torbjorn Torsheim and Bente Wold at the University of Bergen discovered that students who lack social support disportionately face higher school-related stress. This stress leads to higher occurrences of, “somatic complaints like headache, abdominal pain, backache, insomnia, dizziness, and fatigue.”

Oh boy does that sound like some of my friends. But the fascinating correlation to these symptoms rests in support systems. My employment has afforded me the opportunity to be supported by hard-working, caring, and intelligent colleagues. My degree choices or projects I wanted to work on or even decisions relating to who I should and shouldn’t spend time with were all supplemented by the input of my work communities.

Through these support systems, I have thrived as a student and an employee. I have had a remarkable advantage over the majority of my classmates in that I possess connections on campus to get me through the tough times.

Having lived this privilege, it breaks my heart to see my friends not feel supported. If you’re reading this and are experiencing headaches or insomnia because of academics, find your community. I promise it’ll help you through what you’re going through.

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