By LUBNA AKHTAR
With classes wrapping up and finals approaching fast it could be beneficial to ponder for a few moments what is really stressing students, besides the impending doom of finals week. The way we tend to view finals week is as a game of dominoes – it goes downhill from here if we fail an exam, if a presentation doesn’t go well or if a paper turns out to be mediocre. The constant state of panic comes from a combination of our parents, peers and even our own expectations, but also from what we see on the internet, especially on social media.
One junior computer science major said, “Like others, right now I am stressed about projects, exams, making sure I can secure myself a position in the workforce.”
Outside of the context of academia, millennials tend to stress out to a greater degree and about more potential factors than other generations have. With the worries of the job market, rising cost of living, increasing student loans and the abundance of information at the tip of our fingers, millennials have more reasons to be constantly stressed.
Senior English major Hannah Bratton said, “I would say I am mostly stressed out about school, but that’s not what most of the generation is stressed about… I think this generation is mostly stressed because we have more information about the world we live in than ever before and we have less means of doing anything.”
With high levels of stress and anxiety about the future, students discussed whether generations of the past have had the same fears and stresses that we have today.
“What I’m stressed about is what people have always stressed about when in school… I don’t think that’s changed from previous generations,” said Keri Stone, junior computer science major.
Social pressures outside of school and securing a “good job” continue to rise as well with the influx of social media use. Having access to the social media of our peers gives us the impression that we know the inner complexities of their lives and since most tend to post achievements and other positive aspects of their lives on social media, we tend to assume that our peers have attained perfection.
“In terms of this generation, we might be a bit more stressed out because the cost of college has increased ten times more from when the baby boomers went to school and the work that’s put in is worth more because there’s so much more at stake… and most people have student loans, which means they’ll need a good job to pay them off,” added the anonymous computer science major.
With all of these expectations set for millennials, it is understandable as to why they’re so stressed. Millennials aren’t necessarily “overly sensitive,” as they are believed to be by generation X and baby boomers, they’ve just got a lot more to take into consideration due to the consistent growth in technology and the rising financial demands.
“And a college degree is a requirement to work now… back then, you could’ve gotten away with not having one,” said Maddie Kelly, a junior historic preservation major.
“A bachelor’s degree means less because it’s expected, but it costs more,” said Stone.
Bratton said, “[Social media] creates this added layer of anxiety about whether your relationship is legitimate, if you tag each other in memes… A lot of really good friendships are devalued because ‘oh, this person doesn’t tag me in memes, or they don’t text me on a regular basis. It doesn’t mean that that friendship is any lesser – just because you’re not using those aspects of technology.”
The best way to cope with these growing pressures is to step back for a little while to think about how no one is alone in this, that we’ve got countless millennials to vent with, especially through social media.
Along with the potential solidarity amongst millennials, it is also important to remain in the moment, to be mindful, and to focus on the task at hand, to not think of our entire life as a game of dominoes. That mindset is a breeder of stress and takes our focus away from the task at hand.