Whitworth is a circus and I’m just the Bengal tiger

By: Lauren Montague, columnist

Graphic by Ben Gallaway | The Whitworthian

Do parents truly understand the ringer that Whitworth puts us through? I mean we’re brilliant but damn, my parents think I have all this extra time. 

From, Anna 

Dear Anna, 

Imagine this: college is a circus. And if college is a circus, then everything you have to work through as a student (adult responsibilities, homework and such) is in the form of a giant hoop that is on fire, hanging in the middle of the tent. And you, the student, are the tiger that has to jump through that flaming hoop. 

I think that if college stuff was a giant flaming hoop before, then now, in 2022, it’s become ten flaming hoops. Each hoop represents a new thing you have to leap through. You jump through the hoop of five hours of sleep a night, you reach the next hoop of your homework load. You jump through that, you get the hoop of extreme anxiety. You jump through that, you get the hoop of quarantine. And to add to the challenge, it feels like every hoop gets smaller and smaller until finally, a hoop is too small to leap through and everything comes to a screeching halt. 

That’s my fun analogy for what it’s been like as a college student for the past three years. Hope you enjoyed. 

Seriously though, why has college become a circus? Why hasn’t it been like summer camp? I feel like our expectations for college were formed even before we got here. I don’t know about you, but my parents had been hyping college up for me since I was in elementary school. By high school I was looking forward to college as the best four years of my life. And don’t get me wrong, in some ways it has been! But I was not prepared for the colossal amount of stress that I was about to endure when I first unpacked my bags in Arend freshman year. 

This failure of presenting the whole picture to me when I was younger isn’t on my parents, though. They didn’t know that for most of my college experience I’d have to wear a mask over my face, go to class on the computer and be isolated from my friends. How would they have been able to predict that? So let’s not blame them for our raised expectations. 

What you bring up though, Anna, is a valid question. Do parents really understand what it’s like to be in college during a pandemic, especially at a school in Washington state? I mean, sure, at least a little bit. They had to do the whole isolation period too. But throwing homework deadlines on top of that is a whole other deal – an experience only we have lived through. 

Now that we’re out of online school, it should be back to normal. It really should. But now most of us have heightened levels of anxiety and depression, and that’s harder to work through than any quarantine. We’ve jumped through the flaming hoop of online school, and now we’re faced with the flaming hoop of meeting deadlines while being physically and mentally incapable of doing so.  

My advice in all this? Be honest with your parent or parents about how much time you have on your hands. Tell them how you’ve been doing this semester, this year, or the past three years. If you’re anything like me and you want to be a perfect child who doesn’t show how much you’ve been struggling, then this will be difficult. But in order for them to be able to best support you, you have to let your parents know what’s really going on behind the mask. It’s not healthy to hide behind text messages or smiles anymore. 

Even if they didn’t go to college during a pandemic, if your parents went to college, then they understand the feeling that there is no time for anything else than school. So remind them of that. Yes, phone calls with updates on life are good, but if you don’t have time for them you need to be able to tell them. Maybe they can even help make it easier to schedule a time to talk, or maybe they’ll be really understanding and let you off the hook. You’ll never know unless you try.  

While you’re in the circus, school is your top priority. That’s just the way of things, and your parents know that too. But if they’ve forgotten, just try being honest with them about where you’re at, either mentally or physically. They’re most likely going to have your back.  

Talking feelings is hard, especially with your parents. But I promise, it’s so worth it to have more people on your side as you jump through the hoops. 

And if you don’t want to talk to your parents, you can talk to me! 

You’ve got this! 


Your older sister

DISCLAIMER This columnist is not a therapist, financial adviser, realtor, nutritionist, medical professional or clergyperson. She is your older sister. Take her advice (or not) in that context.

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