Please stop complaining to me

| Senior Forum Editor

Whenever people from back home ask me if I like college, I whip out the scripted response of “Yeah! It’s great! The campus is beautiful, but it’s pretty stressful!” And, on the off chance that someone from my hometown that’s not my doctor or my dentist knows Washington University, they’ll say something in return about how our school is “known for being rigorous…but it’s worth it!”

While it’s easy for my mundane response to roll off the tongue, it’s not really true. Yes, school is stressful. But it always has been. Yes, the campus is beautiful (besides the construction, cough cough). But there’s also the friends I’ve made, the student groups I’m in and the experiences I’ve made, all of which go undiscussed and remain largely ignored.

The fact of the matter is, it’s much easier to offhandedly mention the negative than the positive. Let’s be honest, it’s a lot more fun to talk about—and listen to—all of the annoying, aggravating things that professors, friends and family members do. One time during my freshman year, after talking to my mom on the phone, she started anxiously wondering if I was even enjoying school or if I needed to transfer to another university for my own happiness. I realized that instead of telling her about the interesting articles I read for class or the amazing, beautiful, perfect scone I had that day, instead I spent half an hour unloading all of my social and academic stress onto her.

At a certain point, the amount of stress, anxiety and sleepiness becomes a kind of contest. It’s not uncommon to hear something along the lines of “I’m so tired, I only slept five hours last night,” countered with “Five? I only slept for three.” Okay, good for you. That doesn’t really make either person feel better about being tired, it only causes them to become more deeply entrenched in their pit of stress and despair.

Last year, I made a promise to myself to stop talking about my stress and sleep schedule. Do I still do it sometimes? Yes, obviously, and not just to the aforementioned people from my high school that I run into at the grocery store. But, after making this choice, I noticed that I started to feel better about my own workload and time management. Talking about it only reminded me of everything I had to do, in turn making me even more stressed, which culminated in a vicious cycle that ended with me doing a whole lot of stressing without much actual productivity.

Obviously, friends exist as a resource for support and a shoulder to cry (or complain) on, but imagine if every conversation was centered around a cool thing that happened in class or around cute Wash. U. squirrels that rather than turning into a negative conversation. Before you knew it, your own internal stress-o-meter might start to decrease—and the competitiveness you feel might start to drop.

While the stress itself might not wane, going into class with a newly improved attitude might help ease some of it, and there’s no better time to start than fresh out of a nice, relaxing summer filled with job applications, internships and the 30-minute trip you took to the pool that one time.