My life is in a constant state of fluctuation. One day I’m a student, the next an employee, and the next a volunteer. I have no routine, no stability and it’s exhausting! I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I have every day and the options I have to choose from. However, I can’t say that having six more years of education, several more decisions and barriers, as well as options than what my parents had has actually made my life easier.
Instead, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on an education that doesn’t qualify me for anything aside from entry level positions. I’ve set myself back years from being able to afford a house or any real property. I find myself surrounded by more decisions, that only grow in importance and variety. Most of all, I’ve watched the mental and physical health of so many of my friends in the same position as me deteriorate drastically.
Society is saying that more awareness is being drawn to mental illness, and I do agree with that. However, I also think that many mental illness rates are rising with the growing pressure surrounding success and education, as well as the number of years we spend consumed by it.
The weeks students spend hulled away in library stacks and cubicles, the anxiety of presentations and finals exams, it starts to add up. Students now live two polar opposite states, either they are hermitting or partying like crazy. They get no time for themselves, no relaxation or sense of stability, only silent chaos to actual chaos.
Then exams end and we are back to work, most of us work jobs with crazy hours or shitty pay. Which puts us into a spiral not unlike the one experienced during the school year, one where we are working long grueling hours or partying away our night off. The reality is, no matter what end of the spectrum we land on or what combination of the two we partake the most in, it’s all unhealthy.
I love what I do and what I learn and I wouldn’t wish it away for the world. It’s just hard to understand how the world hasn’t found a better system yet. We work to go to school and go to school so we can work. The thought of that is terrifying, it takes away the agency of what we do and the love and effort that we put into it.
In contrast to our own, the lives of our parents and the generations before us seem so simple.
They didn’t have the luxury or the stress that lies behind the endless opportunities we have today. The progress we have made is nothing short of remarkable. All I’m asking for is awareness of the fact that the lives we live now come with problems of their own. The harder we push ourselves, the more we tend to neglect ourselves.
It’s important to remember what it means to live in the world today. Yes, being grateful is crucial. However, it’s also important to educate yourself on health and your own well being and the consequences of the lifestyle you lead. Have you taken time to deal with the stress and anxiety of school/work? Have you lost sight of your goals and your reasons behind them through all of this chaos? Most of all, is your goal worth the stress? If it’s not, then find something that is worth it, because this life wasn’t meant to be lived doing something you hate.
No matter who you are or what you are doing, remember that you only get this life once. Don’t throw it away. Be a student because you love to learn. Be an employee because you’re proud to be a part of the company you work for. Be anything you want, so long as you know remember it’s not just about where it takes you, but also where you are right now.