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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

If you attend American University, you are most likely too familiar with the phenomenon I am about to explain: Wonk culture. The university famously attracts students dedicated to academic and extracurricular success. While this is a seemingly positive trait and one I appreciate to some extent, many take the desire to do well to an extreme. 

A pull factor to American University is its extensive array of internship opportunities. From non-profit organizations to working on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. is the place to be for those looking to obtain an internship relating to politics or social justice. This being said, I have observed that many students tend to base their worth and others’ worth on whether or not they obtain these highly selective internships. Additionally, some who believe they have “the top” internship can be exceptionally vocal about their position and flaunt it to those not doing the same line of work. 

A huge impact of wonk culture at American University is feeling like you are not doing enough and are somehow behind. Freshman Samantha Insler believes there is “a noticeable and intense pressure for first-year students to jump into a lot of clubs, jobs, classes, and internships right away.” When your peers are exceedingly vocal about how packed their schedules are, it is easy to feel like you are not keeping up. An additional aspect of wonk culture is feeling surrounded by peers who are fully confident in their future paths. Freshman Julia Leland believes that many students at American University “look down upon those who are not fully confident in what they want to do in the future.” 

For those who are already hard on themselves, wonk culture can feel severely overwhelming. It is hard to feel secure in oneself when it seems as if everyone around you is achieving bigger and better accomplishments. 

What has helped me feel comfortable in not having the best internship or fully knowing what my future holds is recognizing that the loudest are not always the majority. Just because it seems like everyone is doing something extraordinary does not mean what you are doing is not equally as important. There is no such thing as being behind, and there is no need to do everything at once. 

Just because you are not an intern for President Joe Biden himself does not mean you are not enough.

Julianna is a freshman at American University majoring in both political science and justice and law. Julianna is extremely passionate about social justice, and enjoys writing about these issues. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends, listening to music, and shopping.