CLAIRE LUDLOW ‘17
I am a Communication and Environmental Studies double major with an impending certification in Organizational Studies. I am a member of Denison’s Women’s Lacrosse team, a sister and Executive Board member of the Ohio Eta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, Denison Enterprise’s Vice President of Human Resources and a contributing writer for both Spoon University and The Denisonian. I am also too overinvolved for my own good.
Going into college, I told myself that I would not spread myself too thin when it came to coursework, relationships and organizations on campus because “overinvolved” and “stressed” are synonymous terms in my life. I was not going to join a sorority, for example, and I was certain that I would only focus my studies in one area. As you can probably tell, I lost sight of this plan, joined a number of organizations on campus, found myself in large leadership roles and took on another major.
Don’t consider me an anomaly, however; most students on Denison’s campus are heavily involved, and a considerable number of these students seemingly “do it all.”
A proportion of the overachievers seamlessly finish their work, attend meetings, hit the gym and log 8-10 hours of sleep per night with ease and composure, but I am not one of them. Crying to my mother on the phone about my stress-level has become a weekly ritual, and I often find myself anxious when I finally have a moment to relax, convinced that I have forgotten to be somewhere or finish something.
On the surface, my impulsivity is to blame when it comes to taking on casual tasks for clubs and organizations, which then evolve into weekly meetings and leadership roles that dominate my school planner and to-do lists. In other words, I could do a much better job of evaluating whether or not I have the time to take on these tasks.
But with a second glance, I realize that there is an inherent pressure for the liberal arts students of generation-Z to live a Type-A lifestyle so that they can get a great job straight out of college – because that’s expected too.
Students are told that, on top of having a competitive GPA, “success” equates to a glamorous resume filled with reputable experience and involvement. And while a handful of us do, in fact, make it happen, others walk away feeling unfulfilled and stressed (myself included).
In pretending to live and function as Type-A, I have found that I am “just trying to get through the week” every week, and that my goals are focused on an expectation and not necessarily for my own well being. In the back of my mind, I have realized that many of the decisions I make or have made on campus are based on the idea that “it looks good on my resume” – and not necessarily because it will result in positive change.
I am not suggesting that students should not be involved on campus or that they should not double major, but I think we need to re-evaluate how we define “success” in the context of college experiences. We need to embrace our differences in the form of celebrating authentic pathways, and we must make a conscious effort to identify how we function as our best selves.