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Will I finish this degree or will it finish me?

This school is killing me. How many times have you thought this? Once? Twice? If you’re anything like me, you completely skipped the thinking stage and have resorted to passively muttering these words under your breath 3069 times … a day. Don’t get me wrong, I love this school: the academics are phenomenal, the professors are renowned, the opportunities are endless. But let’s be real here — Princeton be draggin’ it.

There should be no reason students have to pull at least two all-nighters a week or pour numerous cans of Red Bull into their orange juice to stay awake — okay, maybe that’s just me. Nevertheless, the academic environment is toxic. The pressure Princeton places on its students is overwhelming and the amount of breakdowns I’ve witnessed — and had — is astounding.


But we have to face the facts: most often, we are the ones to blame. I don’t typically eavesdrop, but one thing that stuck with me as I was eating lunch at Whitman was a conversation I overheard between two students.

“It’s Princeton; this school is suffocating us.”

“Yeah, but this school doesn’t force you to die; you do that yourself — there is a point where you have to decide to value yourself.”

This illustrates the two sides of this situation — the push and pull of the blame game. At what point are we going to stop playing the victim? When are we going to begin to acknowledge that a majority of the stress we’re enduring is, dare I say, self-inflicted?

Nine times out of ten, we know exactly what we need to do. We know we have exams coming up, papers to write, p-sets to complete, and yet we still decide to wait until the last minute to begin. We sit around, mumble, groan, and complain about all the things we need to do — all the things that must get done — instead of actually doing it. I am not trying to attack anyone, but all I am saying is that in the time it takes to go on Snapchat and rant behind a black screen, those readings could have been completed.

I am not saying Princeton doesn’t cause stress. But I believe we add on to this stress by complaining more than doing. What we don’t realize is that the pity party we throw for ourselves causes us to be unmotivated. If all you’re doing is reflecting on the negatives, you set yourself up to be sucked deeper into the abyss. Next thing you know, it’s three in the morning, you’re “tired,” and you didn’t even open your backpack. We have a penchant for dwelling on the negatives, and although we are keenly aware of this flaw, we keep doing the same thing. 


What we need is help — resources, organizations — anything that can assist in breaking this cycle. Yes, everyone is responsible for their own actions, but we are stressed out and the school is not supplying adequate resources. Princeton is an environment that is conducive to stress, and this stress is then perpetuated by us — the students. Yet there is no infrastructure set up to help fix it. If I’m wrong, please let me know, but honestly, dogs in the Frist multipurpose room are only going to suppress my anxiety for so long.

Something must be done by both the University and the students. Both the University and the students have to acknowledge the toxic role we play and figure out ways of fixing it. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of drinking Red Bull-flavored orange juice.

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