The big ass blue whale, part 1
I am hesitant to even write this post because I know that I cannot possibly convey its importance. But consider it a first, brief attempt at a discussion that I will continue to post on throughout the remainder of the semester.
For there is a big blue whale in the room that both the elephant and the 800-pound gorilla are afraid of. And it is one with which we are all quite well acquainted.
In today’s op-ed on social life and the frat brownstone decisions, Jesse Michels, perhaps unknowingly, approaches this monster.
“Even as supposedly well-mannered, constantly composed Ivy League kids, frats are our guilty pleasures—outlets for our animal selves . . . [fraternities] serve a demonstrable purpose for students whose GPA, homework, and career are constantly on their minds and who need a place to let loose.”
Ah yes, the time-tested tradition of Collegialand: Study hard, play hard. But here’s a not-so-secret: It doesn’t work. The “work hard, play hard” dichotomy provides neither an effective stress management technique nor the possibility of a truly vibrant, balanced, and healthy life. For we are still a campus of high achievers aiming for excellence but aching with incredible stress, pressure, and depression, and being crushed under the stigmatization of such as weakness and failure. This is our blue whale. And it is swallowing us whole.
When I was young, and the monsters in the closet were stirring, I was taught to turn the lights on, stare the silly monsters in the face, and then laugh to rebuke their menacing power. Perhaps this is what we, collectively, need to do: to turn the lights on, to illuminate and surface these dark underbellies, to seriously tackle them head on, and to find solidarity in this process, along with some measure of comic relief. We need to rebuke the insidious silence and the dark stigmatization of succumbing to stress. But how specifically do we do this?
Normally in my posts, I try to offer more tangible solutions. But to do so here would run too grave a risk that you would agree or disagree, and then move on, not giving this issue anything more than a fleeting criticism. And this, remember, is a big ass whale. We can only face this issue together. So I am asking you. What do we do about this very big blue whale?