Can You Feel the Pressure?

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College is the pinnacle of freedom. Students get to create their own schedules and make choices for themselves. There’s no greater feeling than being in charge of your own life. There’s also nothing as stressful as making decisions that can affect you forever.

Author Søren Kierkegaard said, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Our lives are driven by the idea of success. I loathe the question, “What do you want to do with your life?”

 

 
People want to hear something impressive like, “I want to be a doctor and save people” or “I’m going to be a teacher because I want to influence young minds.”

I’m the type of person to shrug and admit that I have no idea what I’m going to do.

Those moments of uncertainty are dangerous for college students. We stress out about it, agonizing over the fact that we don’t have a life plan from age 18. People put so much stock into everything we’re supposed to accomplish in 10 years that we forget to be right where we are.

I’ve cried over my inability to choose one career path. It’s a side effect of being a college student. I don’t think there’s been a day where I haven’t felt a soul-crushing moment of doubt. I worry about my future all the time because everyone asks me about it. The pressure for students to be the best of the best is at an all time high. The terrible economy just intensifies the competitive atmosphere.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), there are approximately 40 million adults suffering from anxiety disorders. As much as 75 percent of them had their first experience with anxiety before the age of 22. In a 2008 survey, they found that 80 percent of college students experience typical daily “stressors” and 13 percent were diagnosed with anxiety disorders or depression.

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We waste some much time by comparing ourselves to the few, and let me reiterate for emphasis, few people who’ve always known what they wanted to do.

I know three people who had their minds set on a dream career and didn’t falter in that belief. Three. That’s it.

We’re all so consumed by this idea that we absolutely have to know what’s coming up next. We want to know how life will proceed after graduation. Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed anymore.

Work toward happiness. Find something that makes you smile. Do something that makes you feel valuable. You don’t need to save lives to be important. You don’t need to have your entire life planned out. Life tends to make a mess of plans anyway.

Reach the blogger at Stephanie.Tate@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @StephanieITA