Opinion: Proving yourself does not require stress

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

I was recently watching an episode of 30 Rock, and on the show, Alec Baldwin’s character made an interesting comment: his mother told him that all she wants is for him to be happy. This caused him to tear up because he thought that his mother wishing him happiness was her way of saying he was incapable of success. But the two should not be related.

Although I was taken aback when I first heard him say it, the more the mindset sunk in, the more I realized that it is one that we have subconsciously adopted. A few months ago, I realized that I was caught in the idea that if I was not stressed out, I was doing something wrong. I thought the only way to prove to myself that I was productive and hardworking was if I wore stress on my face.

I think that we have reached this mindset that if we are not stressed, we are not doing enough. We think that if we are happy, we should be pushing ourselves harder and that we are not reaching our full potential just because we go to bed at a decent hour and have time for things we enjoy.

It is interesting to me that whenever big projects are due or when there is an important test, we walk into class and start taking inventory over who stayed up the latest either working or studying. From as early as I can remember, someone would walk into class and say, ‘I spent three hours studying for this last night,’ and another student from the opposite side of the room would yell, ‘That’s nothing! I spent five and drank two cups of coffee.’ And from there, it would start, who suffered more, who is more sleep deprived, who deserves the biggest pat on the back for making themselves miserable. The more sleep deprived and miserable you were, the harder you worked and the higher the grade you deserve on the test or project. Right? Wrong.

Success does not equate to agony, overwhelming stress, or developing dark circles under your eyes. More importantly, we should not be under the impression that happiness implies insufficiency or incompetence. I regret searching for something to stress about when I was happy, and I wish instead that I had appreciated just being stress free for the time being. Looking back, I have come to realize how toxic that mindset was because it had locked me in a spiral of insecurity and negativity.

I urge everyone to enjoy happiness. Not to dread it. Being happy does not mean you are settling–it means you are taking care of yourself and that you have struck a balance between success and your own well being. The next time you feel calm and content, let yourself remain that way. Know that it is perfectly okay to be happy, and know that happiness is not time wasted.