Confessions of A College Senior: The Pressure To Succeed




What do you do when the pressure to succeed becomes too much? When your classes are too demanding, your work schedule is too hectic, and maintaining a social life is unmanageable? For most of us, these are questions that we all face during our college career, but for seniors this feeling can be especially strenuous, because it always seems to feel like there’s not enough time anymore.  As we venture into pseudo adulthood – while taking a full course load – the pressure to do everything and be everything can become all-consuming. What if you still don’t know what you want to do with your expensive Jesuit degree? What if you know exactly what you want to do, but are scared you won’t get a job? Should you take a gap year? Should you apply to grad school? Should you have gone to a cheaper school  for undergrad so you could actually afford grad school? Rent in New York City is how much?! And my personal favorite, am I doing enough? Here are three things to remember when it feels like you’re losing your footing.

[quote_left]Take pride in little accomplishments, like completing a big assignment, remembering to eat breakfast or making time for a friend who needs you.[/quote_left]

Perfect is not a thing.  I know, this is a tough one. But even your friend who works out regularly, interns, takes five classes, volunteers twice a week, is on an e-board, goes out on the weekends and always seems put together is not perfect and neither are you. Everyone manages their time differently and has a different set of priorities that drives them. Often your best doesn’t feel good enough, but it is. Take pride in little accomplishments, like completing a big assignment, remembering to eat breakfast or making time for a friend who needs you. If you don’t stop to reward yourself for the little things, of course you’ll never feel good enough when you drop the ball. Take time to acknowledge all you’ve done. Give yourself time to be upset over a failure – yes, failure is a thing. And then, pick yourself back up, crank up your favorite song and handle it.

Roll with the punches. How does one roll with the punches? As a person with some type A tendencies, this is much easier said than done. But  the reality is, sometimes things will fall through the cracks. You might forget an assignment, be too tired to get dinner with a friend, forget a birthday or mess up at work. You might not get the dream internship on the first try; you might not get into the grad school of your dreams. Life happens. Don’t let the variables consume you. At the end of the day, remember what matters most to you. Remember that you are so much more than just the sum of your own productivity – even if society teaches us otherwise. Sometimes misfortune can lead you onto a new path that was even better than your original plan.

You’re not the only one. Sometimes we get so consumed with our own worries that we self-sabotage  via emotional isolation. There’s a 99.9 percent chance your best friend is going through a senior year crisis too. Vent. Vent like you’ve never vented before, because sharing your truth with someone else – and listening to theirs – is an incredibly powerful thing. Sometimes it can feel like you don’t have the right to vent because you are so fortunate to have that great job, or those awesome friends, or that parent who is always cheering you on, but that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid. Don’t bottle it up. Do be an active listener, not just an active speaker. Solidarity is a powerful thing – even if you aren’t going through the same exact experiences, the feelings are very real. We all feel the pressure to succeed in our own way, so be real about it.