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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Column: Burnout

Handouts and syllabi cover your bed. You can’t find your eraser under all the library books piled on your desk. Your brain is ready to call it quits from the stress of multiple midterms and papers on the horizon. It’s that time of the quarter again! Welcome to week six!

And to make matters worse, it’s spring. The baby ducklings in the arboretum are calling our names. The sunshine teases us as we sit in the library. Our friends on semester systems are done with school. I don’t know about you, but I think spring quarter is just a bad idea.

As if having to suffer from the desire of wanting to frolic in the fields instead of sitting quietly in lecture wasn’t bad enough, the plight of being a college student these days seems to be getting worse and worse.

With the University of California’s government funding being thrown out the window, we have to get part-time jobs on top of our already full schedules. With fewer classes offered, we have to stay longer and pay more in tuition in order to graduate. With the economy in the gutter, post-graduation life probably means having to settle for unemployment or a job that doesn’t require those four years of economic or literary theory we slaved away learning.

The California Aggie reported in January of this year that depression and anxiety among college students is on the rise. According to an American Psychological Association study, the number of college students using psychiatric medicines has increased over 10 percent over the course of the last 10 years. Last year, UC Davis’ Counseling and Psychological Services reported that they had treated around 14 percent of students on campus.

The stereotypical college experience is supposed to be full of fun and freedom. Yet, this isn’t always the case. Can we blame our culture for this?

A quick Google search of “American work ethic” tells us that Americans are both overworked and extremely lazy. The “American work ethic” is on the decline, but it is also one of the best in the world. Which one is it?

Maybe looking at the culture of some of our friends across the pond can help. Tijana Milosevic, a young Serbian journalist, blogged on Huffington Post in January about American workaholics and the American career path. Her culture views the American model of putting extreme importance and focus on education and career above everything else as “harsh, capitalistic, individualistic and alienating.” It’s no wonder we’re stressed.

She also points out that in Serbia, if you can’t find free time to hang out with your friends, you might just be completely ridiculous. Having to schedule a lunch date three weeks in advance or having to cancel catching up with that friend for the fourth time because you have to study is absurd.

Of course, procrastination and laziness are not ideals for anyone, but I feel that sometimes we let ourselves get too caught up in the goal we’re working toward. We are all going to school for the same reason: to try to make a better life for ourselves. But is sacrificing your well-being now in the hope of having a better life later worth it?

Some of you might say yes, and some of you will disagree. I hope you are one of the latter. Although sacrifice is an important lesson we all have to learn sometime, I believe in the idea that life is too short to be unhappy.

Here’s some unsought advice from your friendly neighborhood wannabe Spider-Woman, I mean columnist. Next time you feel like freaking out and throwing your textbooks in a dumpster, take a deep breath and put everything into perspective. Yes, it might seem like the end of the world if you get a D on your organic chemistry midterm, but it’s really not. For every negative thing that happens, there are probably at least five positive things to counteract it.

While you are locking yourself in a study cave for midterms this week, remember to take breaks to get fresh air, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. When pass times roll around soon for fall quarter, keep a keyword in mind: balance.

Resist being superhuman and taking 20 upper-division units on top of a part-time job, internship and regular volunteer gig. Those little things like eating and sleeping are actually more important than getting into graduate school. Think of your social life and your personal need for downtime as classes required for your major. No studying, just fun.

Aggies, you have your whole life ahead of you. Enjoy it!

CORRIE JACOBS finds her daydreams about summer as great study breaks. Share your ideas for finding a second wind in order to finish off the quarter at cljacobs@ucdavis.edu.

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