“Everyone has this notion of effortless perfection. Everyone walks around acting like they’re doing everything perfectly, and that Duke is just a walk in the park. No one needs to try because everything comes naturally. And look at me, I’ve got it all together.”
“Everyone is so concerned about school. It’s school school school. School comes before anything else. It keeps us from being there for our friends, from attending events, from being as social. And, especially, school keeps us from taking care of ourselves. Because it’s school before health.”
“Everyone has poor mental health. We’re either stressed or anxious all the time. No one just…. Relaxes. It’s scary. There’s a waitlist for psychological services here. People are not okay.”
“Everyone is over-committed. We don’t make time to just hang out with friends. Everything is calculated, a box to check in our day.”
“Everyone is so concerned about their body here. It’s insane. I see people walking to the gym for the third time that day, and eating an apple as their dinner. We are all so controlling that we even control our bodies… It’s so sad…”
These are things Duke students have said this week. These are things I have observed this week. These are things by which I am appalled. But these are things I do, too.
We make these comments and even though we say “everyone”, we mean “everyone ELSE”.
Everyone ELSE is this way, or everyone ELSE does this, but good thing I’m not that way. Good thing I don’t do that.
We’re in denial that we are part of the problem. We’re in Duke Denial.
And the sad part is that a problem can’t change until we recognize from where the problem has stemmed. And if we all think we aren’t the problem, then nothing will change.
Each and every one of us, unfortunately, is the problem.
We need to get out of our denial.
But how do we do this?
It starts with some critical awareness. When you chastise that girl for how little she eats, make a conscious effort to consider how much you ate for dinner, too. When your friend tells you she can’t hang out because she has too much work and you passive aggressively text all your other friends saying, “I can’t BELIEVE her… All she does is work”, think about how last week you didn’t go to that meeting because you had too much work, too.
I think we could all be a bit more forgiving of each other. We could all stop lumping EVERYONE into one giant category of SUCKING. Because you are part of that everyone. And because most people in this everyone do not know they are included in the everyone. Most people are just trying to navigate Duke, which is hard enough.
But don’t just forgive. Also challenge. Challenge your friends to do better, to be better, to want better. Challenge your friends to think deeply about the choices they make, to consider how their choices may be helping to perpetuate Duke problems that need to stop.
I am in Duke Denial. But the first step to solving my problem is recognizing it’s a problem. So, who else is in denial? Let’s make some change.