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October 2017
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The stressful student life

Studying day and night
I am lying in my bed, trying to see what figures I can discover in the ceiling of my room. Over thinking all kinds of situations and what could have happened. Making an imaginative planning in my head for all the things I should do the coming week; wondering how I will manage everything. The red numbers on the clock change to 02:21 in the morning, and I am still awake. Unfortunately I am used to this situation, over and over again. Every night I am lying in my bed, counting sheep instead of dreaming about them. And when I am finally asleep I will wake up every other hour at least once, which makes me feel tired every day again.
This is all due to my lovely body which made a mistake in my biological clock, and because of that I got a sleeping disorder a couple of years ago. After years of trying to cure myself – from several medications to hypnosis, psychologists and alternative medicine – I accepted the fact that I am stuck with a chronic sleeping disorder with which I just have to deal with. I realize that I could have had much worse medical problems, but this does not mean that a sleeping disorder is fun to deal with. Especially when you are living in a society with a career-driven mentality and where high expectations are the standard.
Currently I am a student at the Erasmus University and I am enjoying the student life: party, having fun, spending your money on things you don’t need, going to festivals, hanging out with friends all the time, doing whatever you want, enjoying the best time of your life. These are the best things of the student life: living on your own and trying to figure out the world and what’s in front of you. However, students have to perform and live under high pressure; it is expected from them to do a million things all at once. Friends expect us to hang out and go to party’s with each other; parents want us to get high grades; our teachers want us to hand in assignments and read books and articles; then there is also the pressure of staying fit, eating healthy, earning money, figuring out what you want to do in life, doing internships, and still being able to do fun things in life like going on vacation, going out for dinner and visiting your family. Moreover, there is also the phenomenon of a student association. This is an additional social factor to your student life, in which you will make friends for life, experience a lot of party’s and hangovers and where you will spend loads of money.
All these things are expected from students, which causes a lot of stress. Even though some aspects – like the party’s and the student associations – are considered as ‘fun’, these nights out have also to do with social pressure. You want to make friends and you want to be seen as a fun and nice person to hang out with, you do not want to be lonely without any friends. So you have to meet up to the social expected standards. All these things lead to a very bad sleep rhythm. Additionally, students have to finish their deadlines and study for exams which usually means a week full of studying all day, all night. So not a lot of sleep either. The lack of sleep leads to a lowered resistance and to being more vulnerable for stress and sickness. In such an achievement-oriented society it is hard for students to meet all the expectations and standards. You cannot do a hundred things at once and satisfy everyone. I think the current society is expecting too much from younger people: it always has to be more and more.
What is perhaps one of the most important things: do not stress about being stressed. This might sound ridiculous, but if you are only focusing on the fact that you are stressed you cannot focus on a solution. You just got to accept that the student life can and will be a stressful but amazing time of your life. You will have to figure out what is the best way for you to handle stress: everyone has their own kind of way of relaxing and managing things. Just keep some important things in mind: even though you might feel so stressed out as if you are stuck in a never ending tunnel do not forget to breath. Just take a moment for yourself and relax for a bit. You can rather have a good night sleep and less time to study tomorrow than little sleep and being extremely tired the next day which leads to not studying at all.
All these things which are expected from you can feel very overwhelming. Besides, as a student you are at the time of your life where you are trying to figure out what you want and who you want to be. Don’t feel like a fool when you make a wrong decision – like choosing a wrong study – you are just at the beginning from your life and it is almost impossible at this age to already know what exactly it is what you want with your future.
Parents and teacher might not realize with how much stress students have to deal with nowadays, because when they were younger things worked differently. The thing is: society just works this way and somehow you will have to keep up with this. And on the other hand, our Western society also gives us a lot of opportunities and we have access to the best education in the world, so keep that in mind when you are working your ass off. And don’t forget: having stress doesn’t always have to mean being stressed.

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