Why I Worry About My Fellow College Students: Anxiety
I’m an anxious person, very anxious, so I know what stress looks like. And when I look around the campus here at the University of Albany, all I see is stress. To be truthful, wherever I see college students I see stress. My greatest worry for my fellow college students is that the world will crush them from the brain down.
We all joke about it. In a sick, cynical way it helps us cope. We make memes about dying and drinking to numb the pain of the stress. We smoke, a lot, be it Juuls or cigarettes or marijuana. I have been a part of more than a few midnight rides to pick up tobacco with a bio major down to her last dollar but who cannot imagine going another second without nicotine because she’s tearing her hair out reading about cells. When I observe my friends who are students in science, law, math or business it’s like I’m watching the researchers on the Manhattan Project, struggling to end a war with a bomb that could end existence, not trying to pass a blue book test on Friday.
This is dangerous. According to a recent report, anxiety is on the rise across college campuses. How could it not be? Student loan debt is at a crippling, unsustainable high, leaving millions of the future governing generation in a state of destitution before they even have a chance to enter the real world. And tell me if the college cares? Do they care when they pour fees onto every printed page while they merrily throw out parking tickets like they’re propaganda leaflets from a B52. When textbooks cost another tuition and the WiFi is perpetually buffering or failing to connect, how can we not feel stressed? As much as the previous generations want to play the “but we all did it before you” it’s not true, not at all accurate. The cost of college, and later homes, has increased rapidly while wages have remained virtually stagnant since the 1970s. We are be being treated like sacrificial lambs, hosts for a number of money grubbing parasites, screaming at us to suck it up and get back to work.
And all around us, the world seems to be coming to a complete end around us. In fact, in 50 years the planet might not even be around for all our stress to even be worth it.
I have no solutions. I have an undue privilege of being able to speak to you all from the position of a major that only demands 30 credits. Yet even I shake when I think of the future, I quake when I think of what happens to my generation when all the money they owe suddenly means more than the degree they thought they were paying for.
My biggest worry for my fellow college students, for my generation and for the future of humanity, is that we all might be forced to wear straitjackets before our caps and gowns get to matter.