It’s no secret Elon University has a culture of overcommitment and overachievement. It’s too common for students to boast their involvements through laptop stickers and backpack buttons, coming to class bragging of their lack of sleep. It often seems that if you are not stressed, then you are not doing enough.
While this culture may seem like one that will push Elon students to achieve greater success and go on to do great things, in reality it is a toxic one that holds students back.
Elon’s campus is constantly bustling with students chugging coffee on their way to class, spending hours in Belk Library or running from classes to work to meetings to classes without breaking for lunch or dinner. Elon students may be largely successful and talented, but more noticeably, they are exhausted.
Students are putting so much energy and time into their organizations and classes that they are neglecting their own mental and physical health — the foundational aspect of their ability to grow and succeed in school. Elon students joke about getting the “Elon plague” around midterms or falling asleep in classes, but they likely wouldn’t have these issues if they simply rested.
With Fall Break coming up in a few days, many students are gearing up for extra time to sleep. They can be heard across campus saying, “I can’t wait for Fall Break,” or “I need Fall Break,” because at this point in the semester students have been going for so long that without a break they may breakdown.
Fall Break comes at the midpoint of the semester because many students do need a break at this point, but they shouldn’t be working and wearing themselves thin to the point that they are so anxious for time off from classes because they need to rest. Breaks should be about spending time with the family members you haven’t seen in months or going on adventures with friends. Yes, breaks are also a time for relaxing and catching up on television shows, but we shouldn’t only allow ourselves time to rest during these breaks.
Throughout the school year, students should not only try to include more time for rest and relaxation in their schedules, but also critically reflect on why they are involved in all the organizations or other commitments they have. The Elon culture of over-involvement is difficult to separate from, but it may be necessary in order to live a full and healthy life on campus.
Involvements in different organizations are an important part of your professional development and resume building, but overworking yourself to the point that you’re unfocused or unable to study for classes will have the opposite effect.
Taking time to yourself to rest and relax is vital to being fully-functioning. Mental, physical and emotional health should always take priority over trying to fit in with a culture that can be toxic to some students.