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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

College students can’t be perfect all the time and that’s perfectly OK

Something we’ve noticed about UF students is that they all have a common undying need to succeed.

We go to one of the top public schools in the country, and we definitely didn’t get here by dragging our feet and screwing around all throughout high school. Most of us took Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, were involved in at least five clubs, held leadership positions in at least three of them and played multiple varsity sports. We told ourselves we had to be perfect and successful, or we wouldn’t get into the college of our dreams. We reasoned that the immense stress we put ourselves under was nothing less than collateral damage for reaching our goals.

When we came to UF, our hunger for supremacy did not subside. Each of us felt responsible to keep our parents full of pride and ourselves occupied to our fullest capacity. Many of us joined Greek life before we could even find our way to the Student Recreation & Fitness Center. We joined every club that seemed even remotely interesting to us. We found jobs on campus, got internships, formed study groups and made entirely new lives for ourselves — most of us doing so before we even made it to our first football game.

As neophyte college students, we didn’t think twice about the amount of pressure we were putting ourselves under. Our activities and responsibilities didn’t seem too far off from what we had handled in high school, so what could possibly be so different now? The answer is everything. When you come to college, everything changes, and you have to readjust and figure out what your new normal is. Most of us didn’t bother finding our new normal, because we didn’t know we needed to. This left us several months into school, overwhelmed and drowning in stress.

We think it is important for UF students — and all college students for that matter — to realize that it’s OK to find a new normal. It’s OK not to be president of six clubs, play varsity sports and maintain a 4.0 GPA. In college, this lifestyle is not realistic for most people, and it doesn’t need to be. We all need a little time to ourselves and some time to live our lives.

This shift that we go through makes a lot of us feel like failures. We start to question why we aren’t able to operate like we have all our lives. Have we become lazy? Are we not as successful as we used to be? How is everyone else doing this so easily? These are the questions we asked ourselves over and over again until we feel disappointed in ourselves and our accomplishments.

We, as college students, need to stop overloading ourselves. We need to realize that what we do is enough.

This isn’t to say, of course, that we shouldn’t be involved on campus or that we shouldn’t strive for good grades and big accomplishments. It means that we need to recognize our limits. It’s OK to fall short of what you originally thought you could handle. It’s OK to say no and quit the things that are least important to you. It’s OK to prioritize your sanity over your resume, and it’s OK not to be perfect 100 percent of the time.

We believe every college student should feel comfortable and confident during their college experience. We believe the key to success is identifying your limits and coming to terms with the fact that you can’t have it all. We must make sacrifices and decide what is most beneficial to us in the long run. When we come to terms with the fact that we are all mortal, nothing can stop us in our journey to excellence and success.

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