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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The biggest question many college students ask themselves every weekend is how their Saturday night should be spent — typically broken into three categories: sleep, party, study. While this seems like a minuscule choice to make, there is a lot to uncover in this question. Hidden to many, the behind the scenes of collegiate success is typically built off of 3 hours of sleep, not eating until 6pm every night, consuming nothing but energy drinks to keep yourself going, no such thing as nights off, and waiting until you have ‘earned’ a rest. How can it be so normal and acceptable to be locked into a dorm for 64 hours with hardly any space to shower, eat, and sleep, all for an exam? When did this become normalized? And not only is this normalized, but it is overly encouraged. Professors and advisors would applaud any student who stays in every weekend to encourage their success in class. Living, breathing, and crying flashcards, exam scores, and textbook pages seem to be what is expected of college students. If you are doing anything else, it is often too easy to fall behind and never catch up. It is a sad reality for too many of us.

Extreme success is glamorized. At what point is the knowledge being prioritized long term for use of the career rather than to simply ace the test? At what point does getting a 4.0 GPA no longer matter? At what point will you look back and wonder if it was worth it? I find it hard to believe that I am the only person with the constant anxiety that I will graduate, find a job, have a family, finally become stable and determine if the choices I made were the right ones. In the end, how much is my Saturday night worth 10 years from now? Will my exam scores triumph over the nights that could have been memories? Will knowledge supersede that human experience? Will I still even have the opportunity to graduate and have a career if this Saturday night isn’t spent overlooking exam material? Will I still be successful if I step out of the dorm room more than once a week? 

Success in my generation seems to be rated monetarily. Passions and hobbies are pushed away as education majors and as time takers to pursue The Gen Z Dream: making enough money to feel like you ‘made it’. Future teachers, artists, dancers, psychologists are being torn down because they don’t make 6 figures a year. While doctors and engineers will always be needed and they are such amazing careers to have in the world, it seems like the standards have gotten to the point that if that’s not what you’re going to school for, what even is the point? If you’re not making at least $50/hour and planning to be working 70 hours a week (when full time is 38 hours, people!), then what is your worth? Since when does overworking yourself until you’re merely threads of who you used to be mean you’re doing something right? Why is this what we are applauding? 

And that, ladies & gentlemen & friends, is the stem of this problem. The pressure of over independence and finding something in this world that will make you feel worthy of the outside society that always has and always will be pounding on every decision you make, questioning every choice of yours, demanding more, more, more, more. Who are you? What are you? Why are you worthy?

Why are you worthy?

What really is the Gen Z Dream? Doing whatever it takes to not feel questioned. 

Questioned about your jean size, your salary, your GPA, your weight, your body count, your test score, your wage, your number of hours spent on the verge of tears in order to gamble with the universe. Somehow, our entire subjective and qualitative life has been narrowed down to mere numbers to be plastered everywhere and determine your worth. If those are the stakes — to feel comfortable in your choices and in your own skin — the sky's the limit as to what will stop us. This is borderline admirable but is quite honestly an unfortunate truth. This comes barreling in at an unimaginable rate in college and that is what drives a lot of us to this insanity, craving a success that may never be what we have been chasing after this whole time. 

It feels like we are always waiting for the weekend, waiting for the next exam to pass, waiting to finish midterms, waiting for summer, waiting for graduation — does the waiting ever stop? Will we always just be waiting for a break that we never seem to get? 

10 years from now, will my Saturday night be worth it?

Hey everyone! I'm Mckennah & I'm a sophomore at ambrose studying nursing with a minor in biology! I hope to eventually become a travel nurse and maybe one day become a nursing professor:) I spend my time outside of school working at a hospital and hanging out with my little brothers! I'm excited to join this journey with all of you.
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