The Decaturian

Battling the Fear of Stepping Back

A Decaturian Collaborative Editorial


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It’s crunch-time on campus, but students feel stretched thin.

All universities have waves of widespread stress, but Millikin can feel like a Tsunami of projects and mandatory events.

When you’re trying to protect your GPA, stay proactive with social obligations, and build your “Honors/Awards” section on your resume–all with final projects looming over your head–it’s hard to remember how awesome Millikin is.

Millikin is a great place to have a social life and start the next chapter of your life. We didn’t even list other activities like athletics, Greek Life, and ALL the other things making our lives fulfilled. Millikin graduates also find jobs quicker after college, so that’s reassuring.

Performance learning works–but there’s always a “but…”

Modeling your education after the real-deal jumps from a learning strategy to a way of life when you have students with extreme student debt doing it.

We are the kids who grew up-and-out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. We really do not want to be unemployed, so we grit our teeth and get things done. This is a good thing for future employers, but it sure does make life difficult for the students.

There’s the student that constantly skips lunch to run errands instead.

There’s the one that pulls all-nighters every two days so they can get their work done.

Don’t forget the student that works until midnight to pay the bills.

By the way, the weekends? Hardly better. If you’re highly involved at Millikin, you don’t get a day off.

Here’s a major flaw in performance learning: we’re scared of failing in front of an audience. Even more so: they don’t want to ever feel like they could have tried harder but didn’t. FOMO is a thing of the past: we suffer from FOSB: the Fear of Stepping Back.

Here’s the problem with telling MU students to step back to get less stressed: most students are loving what they do. They also know that, when they step back, their responsibilities fall on their peers. They also definitely can fail their classes if they take a step back.

Performance learning is a great way to live, but students often forget their most important obligation is to themselves.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions. Dropping, withdrawing from, and failing a class may seem like the end of the world, but it isn’t. In a year, you won’t even care.

Changing your major to doing something more “you” will be worth it, even if you momentarily offend your family and even need to stay an extra semester or two.

It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to admit you’re overwhelmed. You can quit your job, leave a student organization, and even give up on a research project. Even if people are upset, you’ll be fine.

But don’t let people tell you to just “take a step back.” If accomplishing something is important to you, let them know–even ask for help.

Pro tip: if you have shown that you are capable of trying hard, professors probably won’t mind if you ask for a short extension on work. They want you to succeed.

Your first and foremost obligation is to stay happy and healthy. This time of year is creating an atmosphere toxic to all of our mental health. Not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, never having a moment to yourself, and spending hours sitting, cramming on homework, are all things that might seem unavoidable, but if you find yourself becoming more anxious, reach out for help.

The Decaturian knows. We are also a struggling organization around this time of year because all of our staff is drowning in the reality of a busy semester, too. Making progress with our paper is hard when our leaders live performance learning, too.

But we’re stubborn student journalists who grind to give students a voice. Without hardcore performance learners, we don’t have a lot to write about, so keep doing what you love and surf that Tsunami.


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Battling the Fear of Stepping Back