It’s that time of the semester again. Essays, exams and thesis deadlines are coming up fast before the finals push, with internships and job pressures occupying the rest of any remaining free space in most students’ minds. You start wondering whether your hall mates and close friends, who you used to see every day, frankly still attend this school. These last four to five weeks of the semester are composed of repetitions of “We should catch up soon” and “Let’s grab Val together sometime,” but so often those phrases are empty sentiments. Even though it should be incredibly obvious in our supposedly tight-knit community, Amherst students seem to avoid leaning on each other in the face of mounting obligations.
At Amherst, students pride themselves on how many hours they’ve spent in Frost, how late they stayed up, how many essays they have due and how many all-nighters they have pulled and will pull. We like being busy. In fact, to be busy is to keep away general anxieties, sadness and social isolation. We live in a culture of busyness. Ironically, however, because we indulge in and embrace our hectic schedules, we forget to make room for our own needs and our friends. We believe our mental health will benefit more from daily club meetings than from the rare meal at Schwemm’s with a longtime friend.
Despite the fact that we pride ourselves on sharing our stress, we ironically tend to avoid each other when we’re at our most stressed and anxious. At a certain point, every extra minute Val sitting, watching TV with a friend or simply catching up seems like time wasted or stolen from essential work. Because we share so much of our stress and what we need to do, we get caught in our own cycle of stress, convincing ourselves that we have no time for anything else. We stop believing that we have time for other people and, eventually, for ourselves.
This is advice that every college student needs but has trouble taking: Make time for your friends, your family and yourself. It’s easy to tell someone not to be consumed by their work, not to be overly frustrated with a bad grade, not to be overwhelmed by mounting deadlines. It’s much harder to actually put this into practice. However, a key step is simply to reach out to those who are there for you.