By: Helen King
College is a culture of its own. It’s filled with traditions, various experiences, and becomes its own world away from home. This new culture can be fun and provide memories that will last a lifetime, but it can also be very difficult to adjust to.
Personally, I have had to find ways to deal with my stress in order to not go crazy. I’ve had plenty of mental breakdowns over my time in college. I can have 3 types: my main one is the typical crying session where everything feels horrible, and then when you’re done crying things start to feel better; another is the late night slap happy breakdown where you just can’t stop laughing because you’ve checked out so much; finally, and the worst breakdowns I’ve ever had, are the severe anxiety attacks that send your whole body into a cold sweat and you can’t stop shaking or even sleep for the most part. At least at MSOE and other high intensity schools, stress is a major component of the college culture. People even bond and connect with one another over the similarity that we are all in the same boat. Kappa Sigma Mu has actually helped a lot in terms of finding ways to just have fun aside from all the craziness. It’s healthy to find a good balance between school and down time.
One way that I really like to relieve stress (when I have the free time) is working out at the gym. It’s recommended you do so regularly not only for your physical health, but also your mental health because it releases good chemicals in the brain. In fact, mindhealthconnect.org says it even increases the size of your hippocampus and creates more connections within the brain, both of which are healthy for you.
Of course, there are many other ways to relieve stress in college as well. To read some more ways, visit the link below.
There are many expectations in the college world that are also a part of its culture. For example, a big one most people know of is binge drinking. This is huge, especially in America. However, just because expectations exist, doesn’t mean you have to be forced to follow them.
Another, expectation in college is to study all the time (depending on where you go). For me, I find that I have times during the school year when I’m super motivated and work really hard, and other times where I just don’t want to do work at all. Luckily, KSM is there to pick me up and keep me pushing forward, even when I’m not motivated with their study hour requirements.
One thing about expectations you have to be careful with is that it makes you care what others think more. Personally, this is something I feel I struggle with a lot. However, it depends on what it is. When it comes to grades and appearance, I can really care what other people think. Yet, I don’t seem to care what people think of me when it comes to things I enjoy (for example I am obsessed with cats and tea). Moreover, as an RA, I found I don’t care if a resident doesn’t like me due to me having to enforce rules. The most important things I have learned is to just be yourself and not succumb to social norms or peer pressure if it makes you uncomfortable or unhappy. I think most people struggle with caring what other people think. It’s hard wired into our brains to want to fit in. Psychology Today explains how fitting in with the group was imperative to survival, but in this age, it really causes us to struggle with self-acceptance. If you struggle to stop caring what other people think, here is a good video to watch:
Success in college is so arbitrary. It can mean so many different things to so many different people in so many different ways. My definition of success changes regularly as well. For me, success can be in learning from my failures, but also doing well the first time. Success can also mean I finished something, even if not to the best of my ability, because you can’t always do everything perfect and completely. I think the biggest key to success is finding ways to be proud of yourself and stay motivated. The biggest way to be proud of yourself is not gauge yourself through others, but to gauge yourself by knowing what you’re capable of.
Below you can see an image of me all dressed up to go in a clean room where they make million dollar semiconductor wafers. This was from a business trip I got to go on to visit customers of the company I internship at. I love this photo because I feel like it encompasses not only the joy of my job and the trip, but the success of how far I’ve come. I have learned so much during my time in college and it really is a world all of its own. But I’m no stranger to struggle either.
If you’re struggling with success in the crazy culture that is college, cbs news suggests these top 5 tips: