It’s that time of term again.
You know, the time when Carls are super busy, have a lot of work, and become incredibly stressed? Oh, wait, that’s true for every day of the academic year for every Carleton student. A little known fact about Carleton, it seems, is that every student—from freshman to senior, from studio art major to chemistry major—has a crap-ton of work, all the time.
However, although Carleton is known for its all-around academic rigor, many students are under the impression that their personal workload is, unquestionably, the most difficult. I know, it’s healthy to talk about what stresses you out, and how that makes you feel. I’m a SWA, I practically preach that stuff…I get it. But what’s the point in trying to one-up your friends about how many pages of reading you have, or how many essays you have to write? I guess it’s just a form of making conversation, but it’s pretty weird.
Admittedly, sometimes social interactions are hard at Carleton. We are all so wrapped up in the Carleton bubble and all of the tiny microbubbles within Carleton that what is socially appropriate to talk about is often skewed. But
that’s no excuse for this! Why is it that, as a campus, our most favorite way of interacting with each other is by trying to prove that our lives are more difficult? This phenomenon, stress-bragging, comes in all forms. I will outline the three most common.
1. The Quantitative Effect: Friend A says to Friend B, “Ugh, I’m so stressed. I have to read 80 pages for my 3a tomorrow! It’s so dense, and boring, and the print is like only size 10!”. Friend B responds, “Oh wow, that stinks. I have to read 87 pages tomorrow, which is, like, a lot, and the font is probably smaller than, 10. It’s just really hard for me because it’s a 1a, and I also have to go to office hours, and I also have to do a Moodle post.” Friend A: “Oh.”
2. The Belittling Mechanism: Friend A says to Friend B, “Ahh I have a lab write-up for tomorrow for my chem class, and it’s just really hard, be- cause I don’t think I understood it very well.” Friend B responds, “Psh, just wait until you take Orgo. I have an Orgo lab due tomorrow afternoon and, I mean, in comparison to intro chem, it’s just…. I can’t even.” Well, no shit. Of course Organic Chemistry is more difficult than Introduction to Chemistry, that’s why there’s a chemistry sequence. But, if you haven’t completed intro yet, intro is going to feel pretty damn hard.
3. Science vs. non-science: Students majoring in science have to do a lot of labs. Labs take time. Thus, science majors must be more challenging than non-science majors. This is just not true. Nor is it important. Everyone chooses their major at the end of sophomore year. It is a choice. If you’re choosing to be a science major, you have to deal with the labs. People who did not choose a science major are making the active choice to not entrap themselves in hours of required labs. Non-science majors have to write more essays, or do more creative projects than science majors; this also takes time. All majors consume a lot of time. All majors are challenging.
It’s really, really hard to eliminate stress bragging from conversation. So much of our shared experiences at Carleton are homework and class. Reminding yourself and others of how much homework you have to do is a way to justify your stress, and also boost up your morale. But it kind of sucks. When you get WHAM-O’d with your friends stress bragging, it’s hard to know what to do. The gut instinct is to stress brag right back at them, but don’t. Just don’t. Talk about your cat, or your favorite cookie. Re- ally, anything but how much work you have to do. Everyone has a lot of work to do. Literally, everyone. Just stop.