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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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College Students Grapple with Overwhelming Expectations

Kaitlyn+Fleming
Abigail Cutlip
Kaitlyn Fleming

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Everything, everywhere, all at once,” or have even seen the Oscar-award winning film. 

In an analysis of the Daniel Quan and Daniel Scheinert directed film, Film Colossus said, “Philosophically speaking, if you’re everything, everywhere, all at once, then you’re nothing.”

That statement is heavy and leaves room for several questions. What does it mean to be everything, everywhere, all at once? 

Who is putting this existential pressure on individuals? Does this philosophy impact someone’s life purpose? 

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This phrase can be a common theme for college students–especially overachievers. It is almost first nature to try and be everything…everywhere…foreveryone…all at once. 

I know more students than I can count on two hands who are sacrificing every facet of their being to succeed. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves if this is always a positive thing. 

I believe currently, students are burning the candle at both ends in order to fulfill every single role in their busy, multi-faceted lives. 

What people seem to forget is college students do not singularly fulfill the role of ‘student.’ College students are students in addition to being employees, friends, daughters, sons, volunteers, leaders, athletes, grandchildren etc. 

This abundance of roles leads to college students yearning to fill these positions with as much tact as humanly possible–even if it means sacrificing their own happiness. 

This occurrence is not attributable to anyone, just merely an occurrence of life. However, there are things both college students and those who care about college students can do to remedy this. 

Individuals invested in supporting college students must understand it is rarely a matter of “Sorry, I don’t want to,” but simply a reality of, “My schedule is mapped-out to the minute that I can’t possibly do this unless I eliminate meals and sleeping.” 

The college student in your life is never purposely ignoring you–in fact they would probably much rather attend your third cousin’s birthday dinner than write their upcoming research paper or pick up a shift at work. 

Supporting a college student may mean hanging out with your college friend differently than normal. Perhaps you catch up at a coffee shop while working on homework or grab a quick lunch between their classes. 

Respecting boundaries is crucial, but it does not solely rely on family and friends; college students hold the main responsibility for setting and adhering to their own boundaries. 

There is power in having the ability to say no when it protects your peace. 

College students are often conditioned to say yes to almost everything in order to please others, dodge confrontation and avoid the dreaded FOMO, or fear of missing out. 

While college students should experience as much as they can within their time at the university, they should not say yes to experiences at the cost of their mental health. 

This isn’t to say college students should hole-up in their dorm and do schoolwork every waking hour. However, college students should not say yes simply out of obligation or pressure. 

Stretching-oneself too thin may present negative consequences. In such cases, someone is often left disappointed, whether it be those who care about a college student or the college student themselves. 

I think it is safe to say college students everywhere can relate to the looming pressure of achieving the perfect balance of socialization, academics, work and self-care. 

Spoiler-alert: it is just not possible. Unless you are a superhero or possess Hermione Granger’s time-turner, there will never be an equilibrium. And that’s perfectly okay. 

As college students, it is vital to understand perfection cannot always be reached. 

It is important to take time for ourselves to discover our interests and partake in hobbies that nurture our soul. 

College students cannot be everything, everywhere, all at once.

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