As the end of the year approaches, students start to face completing group projects, writing thesis papers, reading the chapters they put off all semester, finding summer jobs or internships, etc. They start to label themselves "busy."
More than once I've asked someone the banal, polite question: "How are you doing?" only to be answered with: "I'm pretty busy. How are you?" At first this didn't bother me. Everyone is busy. It's not surprising. It almost seemed equivalent to someone telling me they're "fine."
Almost everyone at DePauw has about a million and a half things to do at any given moment. It seems impossible not to be "busy" most of the time.
While "busy" may seem just as vague and polite an answer as "fine," it is actually cultivating a culture of anxiety within the student body. The problem is that students aren't "busy"; their schedules are.
They are complex, engaging, interesting individuals. They are not "busy".
When people say they are busy, it implies vaguely that they don't have spare time; they've got a lot of stuff to do. Although this is probably true, They're a lot of things besides all the stuff they need to get done.
When they start to identify themselves as "busy," they detach the anxiety that should be associated with whatever they have to do and attach it to themselves. This association creates a source-less anxiety.
When they're busy, it doesn't matter how crammed their schedule is or how many assignments they need to finish. They've got stuff to do. They've got to be on the ball. They've got to be moving.
This disassociated anxiety creates a sense of constant strain. They constantly have to be working and checking off items on their mile-long to-do lists. That makes them feel like they're not productive enough, that they should be doing more. That feeling leads to all-nighters, study-aid use, and other unhealthy behaviors.
On the other hand, it can also create anxiety in students who don't identify themselves as "busy".
When it seems like everyone else is stressed, and everyone else has a million things to do, students can't help but ask themselves, "Am I forgetting something? Am I involved enough? Am I working hard enough?"
Put an end to this end-of-the-year, unneeded anxiety. I'm not saying the end of the year should be peaceful, but you can reduce the stress you feel by keeping it grounded.
Recognize that you're not exclusively tied to the activities and assignments you're constantly working on. Identify yourself as yourself, and keep your schedule "busy".
-Junger is a sophomore English literature and biology double major from St. Louis.