Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement
Queering The Map shows queer love on campus
‘You know absolutely nothing’: Students frustrated with NU’s handling of academic integrity cases
NU’s Summer Class Schedule offers flexibility, opportunities for academic advancement
Community awards, advocacy headline Evanston’s fifth annual Juneteenth parade
Race Against Hate: Ricky Byrdsong’s Legacy
The Week Ahead, June 17-23: Juneteenth, Summer Solstice and Pride Celebrations in Chicagoland
Evanston Environment Board drops fossil fuels divestment, recommends updates to leaf blower ordinance
Advertisement
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

June 13, 2024

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

May 30, 2024

Advertisement

The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

On the highway NU, sometimes you need to just find a rest stop

‘OK, so does anyone have any more reports?”

That was I at our last Peer Health Educators meeting.

Each week at the beginning of the meeting, all 30 peer health educators meet in the basement of Searle Hall to talk about what’s going on on campus. A friend’s father died, another’s resident was homesick, a sister was battling with an eating disorder and another student was diagnosed with leukemia.

After we brainstorm about programs and events that could help students with these issues, the meeting ends and the buzz of the room moves to classes and “What are you doing for dinner?” Confidentiality keeps the door closed on what was said inside.

Outside, walking to the Technological Institute, on the highway of students that is Sheridan Road, it seems like a different world — a world where these problems don’t exist. Each of us, coming out of our own little street on to the fast track to careers: pre-med, pre-law, pre-business, pre-fame. On this four-lane highway, is there a place to slow down? Is there a shoulder I can pull on to? Or am I Peter Gibbons driving to work where the options are accelerate and cut off, or be cut off.

It’s a culture we’ve created here — all of us, ambitious, competitive, savvy and social. A culture where there is no room for error or at least no room to admit it. Why is it that we cling to our images of success, “normalcy” and social standing? Why are we so afraid to talk what seems to be discussed only behind the closed doors of a PHE meeting, a therapy appointment or a religious confession? Why do we emote more through our away messages than we do with those people we call our friends? And why can’t we just put on another university-sponsored fireside or speaker to foster some kind of forum for discussion?

It seems to me that if the answers to these questions were simple then a few more of you would have known what I meant when I said “PHE.”

Yes, I could fit into that bracket that we label as success. I’m a successful pre-med by most standards, I’ll be graduating in June, and I even have a job for next year. I have two loving and supportive parents, a wonderful group of friends and plenty of awesome memories.

Given our culture, I probably shouldn’t tell you much more. I probably shouldn’t tell you that sometimes on this highway with no exits, I’ve felt completely alone, homesick and at times depressed. I probably shouldn’t tell you that I’ve lost a best friend, I have a C on my transcript and I’ve been to CAPS (that would be Counseling and Psychological Services — at Searle). Much of that wouldn’t go beyond my family or a conversation with my best friend after I’ve had a little too much to drink.

The point is, I’m no better than this projection that I’ve made of NU. My friends often tease me that I would much rather crawl into a hole than talk about something that doesn’t fit into the world in which I pretend to live. OK, OK: Working on my communication is on my to-do list.

Even though learning to talk about all of this and having a forum to do so is imperative, maybe I should have begun earlier. Maybe it starts with going from being individual cars on our highway that is driving to work on “Office Space,” to looking up from the sidewalk and saying hello. Maybe it starts with holding the door open a little longer for that person behind you. Maybe it starts with following the intuition that says a friend of yours needs a phone call.

To those of you who have done this for me, I want you to know that you’ve made all the difference.

Weinberg senior Debb Farr is a peer health educator. She can be reached at [email protected].

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
On the highway NU, sometimes you need to just find a rest stop