WE ARE… Stressed Out

Student Stress

Image Credit: FIT

By Alex Yakacki, Director of Creative Production

WE ARE… PENN STATE! We are a community of passionate, dynamic people. We are the number one university for job recruiters. We are the architects of the world’s largest student-run philanthropy. We are leaders in and out of the classroom. The fact cannot be ignored: we are a huge school. With over 40,000 students, you may feel like you are lost in a sea of blue and white without a paddle to guide you on your journey. You are not alone!

We are all human, and being so we all have to deal with those pesky little things called emotions. Love, hate, joy, confusion, excitement, dread… we face a whole spectrum of emotions and combinations of them every day. The task of balancing class, work and organizational involvement while trying to make meaningful personal connections with peers and faculty is not an easy one. The stress catches up with you sometimes and no one can expect you to handle it all effortlessly. I have been blessed with multiple people I can go to at any time with anything on my mind and have open and honest conversation. Sometimes though, it is difficult to lay it all out there, and other times you feel like no one could ever understand the way you feel.

One night last fall, I was describing the long, stressful day I had to a close friend. We got to talking about managing time, stress, relationships, and how everyone takes on life differently. Casually, he informed me that Penn State offers free counseling and psychological services at University Health Services. He said to check it out.

I’m not depressed.

Counseling is for people with bigger problems.

People will think something is wrong with me.

I can figure it out myself.

Lying in bed later that night, I couldn’t help but shake the conversation we had. My initial thoughts were replaced with more curious ones.

Well he goes, and he’s an ordinary guy.

It would be kind of nice to have someone to help me reflect on my life.

And hey, it’s free. I love free things.

I brought up my friend’s experience with CAPS again the next day, asking him more questions. My probing exposed my furtive interest. “I’m telling you: Go once, I swear you won’t regret it.” I was nervous. I knew the stigma attached to it all. I didn’t want my visit to be viewed as weird or a sign of weakness. Often, we feel like we are expected to be strong all the time. It seems it is better to suffer silently than to admit you need a helping hand. Yes, I believe it is important to keep a positive attitude and do your best in every word and deed. But that doesn’t always cut it. The fact is life takes a toll on the human psyche. None of us are perfect, and it is impossible for people and everyday happenings to not affect you. That is part of the beauty of life: we can be affected in such powerful ways.

Everyone has the authority in their life to make it the way they want it to be. I try to use my power in the best, most effective ways possible. I can confidently say counseling is a tool that brought me so much closer to my goals with little effort. It has helped me become a better person, more of the person I want to be.

Having someone in my life that genuinely cares and objectively helps me sort through my thoughts is indispensable. I have successfully accepted and addressed that sometimes life deals you a crappy hand and you have to act accordingly. I appreciate my friends and family and everything they do to help me deal with this, but I also value having professional assistance. It does not make me any less of a successful, strong person.

I’m telling you: Go once, I swear you won’t regret it! 

For more information, visit the Penn State student affairs website.

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