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Anastasia Korolov | Back to the Present

You’re not alone

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 07:01

Some of you aren’t going to know why I’m writing this. You’re going to stare at this paper, wrinkling your forehead in confusion. Maybe you’ll raise an eyebrow questioningly. That’s okay, though. Because some of you will understand exactly why I’m writing this. Of course, it doesn’t matter who understands, because I’m writing this for everyone.

I’ve been exhausted these past few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the sudden increase in activity from winter break, or the same gluten sensitivity my mother recently discovered she has. Maybe I’m just getting bad sleep. Or maybe it’s the stress of starting classes again. I feel like there’s so much to do and no time to do it. But I love all of it, so how could I ever let anything go? 

It can be pretty s***ty at times, I will admit. Walking around tense and nervous, waiting for something to happen that breaks the delicate balance I have going right now. I already have physical symptoms of stress. I’m not sure how much more my body can take.

Last week though, something peculiar happened. I realized that other people have problems too. Surprise! We’re all human beings with complex thoughts and emotions that aren’t all expressed on a daily basis. This may seem trivial to you, and I’m sure I seem kind of self-absorbed saying this, but to me this was a big deal. To know that people are struggling just as much as I am. That I’m not alone in this.

Here’s what happened: I found out that one of my friends is worried about homework. Which is perfectly understandable, especially considering the classes he’s in. Yet it surprised me, because I’d never realized that he’s probably dealing with just as much crap as I am. He’s got all sorts of stuff going on that I don’t know about. Probably some stuff nobody knows about.

It’s a weird epiphany to have. Watching people in class, seeing them effortlessly respond to questions with answers that I have to sit down and think about. It started to make me wonder. Is it me? Am I not reading enough? Am I not paying enough attention? The short answer is probably yes, if only because I spend way too much time clicking on random things on the Internet. I tell myself it helps me relax, but I know I’m just procrastinating. One more thing to stress about, and it’s something that I caused myself. Joy.

The other short answer is no. There’s a long answer too, but we’re not going to have time for that. When I’m in class seeing people easily answer questions, I’m seeing those people at their best. I’m seeing them when they’re on top of their game, and they’ve done all the reading and understood it perfectly. And when I’m trying to do homework, and I can’t even really figure out what the question is asking, I’m at my worst. What kind of fair comparison is that? But it’s the one we all make, because the times when other people are at their best are the times we’re noticing them, and when we’re at our worst, we’re at our most vulnerable. So I go through the day, and I get this warped sense that everyone knows exactly what they’re talking about except me.

But here’s the thing: everyone’s got problems. Everyone’s got secrets and stuff they hate doing and times when they wish they had just gone into [insert whatever major here] instead. Everyone here is struggling with the same careful balancing act that I am.

None of us is alone in this.


 Anastasia Korolov is freshman who has not declared a major. She can be reached at 

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