By Laila Dames
As a student at Duke, the majority of us can recall being overachievers in high school. I remember being a part of executive board in four clubs, volunteering, babysitting, and having a job all while maintaining my academics. All of this was done with the intention of getting into a good college. When I finally got into Duke, I felt like all my hard work paid off. I could finally breathe knowing I accomplished my goal. Or so I thought.
I naively entered Duke thinking that I could handle the same workload as I did in high school. I signed up for way too many clubs and tried my hardest to maintain all of them. However, college is a lot different than high school. Our sleep schedules, stamina, and responsibilities have all changed.
For some reason, I have always felt a need to prove myself. A need to fill up every moment of my time and not have a moment to breathe. I can (unfortunately) say I’ve accomplished this goal during my first semester at Duke. With my participation in Mock Trial, various cultural clubs on campus, QuestBridge, and @DukeStudents, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to balance my workload.
I saw people doing amazing things, like traveling to insane conferences and joining student government. The imposter syndrome kicked in and contributed to my need to overload my schedule. I felt like I needed to do more to live up to the “Duke” name. I was stuck in the high school mentality of constantly doing more and more, except now I didn’t have an end goal. I was simply overworking myself and stretching myself beyond my limits.
Once second semester began, I realized I seriously needed to reevaluate my choices and how I am spending my time. You should only ever be competing with yourself to try and become a better version of you. We are quite literally at Duke University! There’s no longer a need to overwork yourself to the point of a breakdown. Graduate school is important, but so is your mental health. You’ve already proven yourself, I promise!
Laila Dames is a first year @DukeStudents intern from Miami, Fl. She is passionate about the school to prison pipeline and plans on majoring in Public Policy and earning a certificate in Child Policy Research. When she’s not spending time with friends, you can find her enjoying the campus scenery and listening to a crime podcast.