Commuter Life: How I handle being stretched too thin

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems faced by college students. - Photo courtesy of


My heart is racing a mile a minute. My head is pounding. My body’s shaking. I feel like I just ran the hardest, greatest, most important race of my entire life, and…I lost.

I can’t seem to shake the feeling. I’m on the edge of a cliff. I’m at the top of Kingda Ka. I’m the guy falling into the endless black pit after getting kicked in the stomach because “THIS IS SPARTA!” Oh wait, no it’s not. This is Film Scenario Writing, and the class hasn’t even started.

This, boys and girls, is my life with anxiety.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, anxiety continues to be the most predominant presenting concern among college students.

On a good day my brain functions like an infected computer. A flood of random junk keeps popping up in my mind, blocking my train of thought, and I can’t close any of it out.

But life runs at high speed and although I often feel like AOL dial-up, I can’t just sit around waiting to reboot. This is the equipment I’ve been given, along with a set of constant jazz hands and a knee that has no chill.

On a good day my brain functions like an infected computer. A flood of random junk keeps popping up in my mind, blocking my train of thought, and I can’t close any of it out.

I know all too well that commuter life is hectic. Many of us rush back and forth just to hold up a job while juggling classes, and running off the fumes of an off-balanced diet of fast-food value items and whatever you can microwave.

Now I’m not a doctor, a counselor, a sensi or a genie, I’m just a person trying to get by, and here’s how I do it.

Tune ’em out: Block out the bad vibes with some jams. If you are running late for the billionth time to the same class because you were rushing from work, stuck in traffic from your commute, or you just couldn’t find parking, don’t freak out or skip class. Pop in some headphones, pump up the volume, and dance, dance! Stomp your way down the sidewalk while bumpin’ some Kanye. Strut through the halls like you are the Queen Bee. Vogue all the way down Robo if that’s what it takes. Don’t give up, turn up. Life doesn’t seem that bad when you have your own soundtrack.

Cut the caffeine: Sometimes you might feel like you’re having a full blown panic attack when in reality you’re just tripping off a butt load of espresso. Easy there, Lucky. You can put down the pot, of coffee that is. I’m not trying to steal your liquid gold. If I could mainline coffee into my veins, trust me, I would. I’m not here to tell you to quit or to start drinking decaf; I’m not a monster. However, try to limit yourself to just one cup a day. Drink some tea and avoid the energy drinks. 

Wreck It Ralph: Have you ever walked down the kitchenware aisle at Macy’s and thought to yourself, “Hm. This fancy serving plate looks fun to break.” No, that’s just me? Okay, well have you ever gotten so frustrated with an assignment that you just want to judo chop your laptop in half? Well in the words of the wise Shia Labeouf, “Just do it!” Not your laptop of course, but you know that birthday mug from your backstabbing friend, that picture of your dreaded ex, or that trophy from that middle school sport you never even enjoyed, well put it all in a bag and with a bat or hammer, (carefully) go to town!

Scream: Let it go! Yes people, Elsa had life figured out. Acknowledge your frustrations, don’t ignore them. Scream to the high heavens about your horrible boss and your never ending assignments. Yell into your pillow about the price of printer ink and your college tuition. Let out a series of wild animal noises, grunts, and growls in the car when the day doesn’t seem to be going your way. Throw it all out there into the universe. Free yourself.

Finally, never be too proud, embarrassed, shy, or busy to accept help. Some of us may not have friends, or it’s too awkward to talk to our parents, and our professors are either too busy or intimidating, but even if you feel alone, you’re not. Rowan’s Wellness Center provides counseling and psychological services to staff and students. So try them out or give them another shot.

Remember that your struggles are valid; even if your elders are constantly giving you the “When I was your age” speech. We get it, gas was cheaper, minimum wage was terrible, technology is the devil, and you guys walked a lot in the snow.

Here’s the thing: We’re not lazy. We’re not dramatic. We’re not entitled. We’re not crazy. We’re human.

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