Stopping The Glorification of “Busy” In College

In college, it can be hard not to get caught up in the competitive atmosphere. It seems like every day there’s a scholarship to apply for, jobs to get, internships to fight for, etc. This as well as the nature of college at times can lead to the glorification of busy. You know, the “praise” of getting no sleep, taking seven classes while working three jobs, and being involved in ten student organizations? Okay, that might have been a tad bit dramatic, but you get the point. The constant feeling that you’re not “doing enough” or accomplished enough is a harmful and common effect of the glorification of busy. With this feeling of self-doubt and the need to add more to one’s schedule being a norm for college students, it’s about time we be honest about how detrimental the glorification of busy is to our well-being. Here are five things that I’ve learned about the glorification of busy and how to avoid it while at college!

1. Someone else’s success and schedule does not undermine your own.

College can become a sort of petri dish for glorifying being busy and the comparison of achievements and schedules among peers. Sometimes, while hearing everyone else talk about their schedules and what amazing things they did over the summer, you’ll find yourself beginning to doubt your own success and questioning if you’re “doing enough” to get where you want to in life. Even having these thoughts and self-doubts can be harmful, as some people even begin to wonder if the sheer fact that they’re having doubts is a bad sign. But the truth is that everyone is having doubts sometimes, and thoughts about whether or not you’re “doing enough” does not make you lesser than anyone else. 

With that being said, it’s extremely even more crucial to remember that it’s not healthy or even fair to yourself to compare your successes and schedule to anyone else’s. The point of your college experience is to give it your all, and everyone’s best work looks different. No two people have the same goals, obligations, ways of learning, etc. If you’re doing your best and prioritizing your well-being while you’re at it, you have nothing to worry about. I find that staying focused on my own personal goals helps keep myself in check when it comes to comparing myself to others. It’s also never a bad idea to celebrate your own achievements of all sizes as a little reminder of how great you are!

2. No, not sleeping isn’t cool or worth it.

In high school (and to be honest, while in college as well) I have and continue to struggle with prioritizing sleep. So much so that I made myself sick from such a lack of rest. I remember my mom telling me one day though that I would either sit down or fall down, but either way there was nothing I could do about it because my body needs to rest. It’s been four and a half years since she told me this, and I’m glad she did because it has stuck with me ever since. The essence of my mom’s words were that I can’t always be go, go, go. At some point, I have to stop, sit down, and let my body recover, or else it’ll force me to, like how it did that day in high school.

That is the moment that I began learning about how important sleep is. We spend so much time in college talking about how few hours of sleep we got that week, but these conversations really don’t address the issue of how getting so little sleep should not be normalized. College students everywhere are responsible for hours upon hours of schoolwork on top of extracurriculars and jobs, which can make getting enough sleep really tricky. This is why it’s important to keep in mind those eight hours of sleep you need every night when you’re choosing your classes, work schedules, and signing up for student organizations. Don’t let the glorification of busy get to you here—if you won’t be able to get enough sleep (or eat three meals a day!) with the schedule you have set out in front of you, change it. Self-preservation is vital to our success and overall happiness, and getting enough sleep is a good first step at this.

3. Constantly being busy isn’t good for your health.

Ah, and here comes the truth that no one wants to hear, including myself. When you’re constantly busy and doing a million things all at once, you’re at risk of depleting your health. Now I admit, I am the type of person who likes being busy. But I have learned recently that having some planned downtime every day and every week is really beneficial. Constantly being busy is typically stressful, and too much stress can lead to several illnesses ranging from the common cold to insomnia to increased anxiety. No one wants any of those things. It’s important to give yourself some time to just stop and do stuff that makes you happy or helps you feel calm. 

Personally, I like to declare mealtime as me time as well. I don’t allow myself to do any work whenever I’m eating a meal, especially at dinner. This gives me at least half an hour every day to just sit down and watch YouTube videos or Netflix (if you’re not watching The Great British Baking Show you should be. Don’t judge.) I highly recommend finding a way like this to integrate some relaxation time into your daily schedule. It could be fifteen minutes of mindfulness in the morning or at night, or some scheduled TV time. Regardless, remember that a busy schedule doesn’t necessarily equate to a happy or successful schedule. So give yourself time to relax and stop being busy.


Class of 2021
Hey y’all, I’m a History and Gender and Women Studies double major and a French minor from Chicago! I concentrate in all things Black and Black women studies and love long-distance running.

1 comment

  • I feel like this is so ingrained in the mindsets of students, particularly in a fiercely competitive university like ours. A reminder like this of how damaging constant comparison can be for mental and physical health is so important, as I find that my self-esteem and worth are very much related to how full my calendar is with meetings, classes, etc. I’m glad that this article is here to show people that we all struggle with doubt, regardless of how ‘busy’ we perceive ourselves to be, and that time to focus on self-care should be a priority, not an afterthought.