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The Feeling of Never Doing Enough

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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 UCD chapter.

As college students, I’m sure we’ve all experienced the feeling of never doing enough. It’s the nagging voice in the back of your mind that questions your achievements. Surrounded by peers who always seem to have everything together, it’s hard not to feel like you could be doing more whether it’s with joining more clubs, studying harder, or constantly being on LinkedIn, searching for jobs and internships. There exists a persistent feeling of never quite measuring up, of falling short of expectations, both self-imposed and external. It seems to be a con in the structure of academia. I know this feeling well, and if you do too, you’re not alone.

For me, I’m pretty sure this feeling lies in my relentless pursuit of perfection—and it can be a toxic cycle. Students are conditioned to strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives, including maintaining a high GPA, holding leadership positions in prestigious clubs, or securing an internship at a well-known company. The pressure to succeed can often make undergrad life feel like a never-ending marathon. And on some days, it certainly does not feel like “college is the best years of your life.” Not to mention, when students encounter setbacks in their strive for perfection, their self-confidence can seriously diminish. Moreover, the comparison culture is almost inescapable. LinkedIn, especially, can quickly become a trap where students find themselves comparing their achievements to those of their peers, reinforcing that feeling of never doing enough. This is the toxic cycle that many of us fall victim to. So, how can we change our mindset?

First, it’s important to recognize that this feeling is common among other college students; some are just better at hiding it than others. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support from friends and family. Additionally, it’s important to set realistic expectations and prioritize self-care. Taking breaks, stepping away from the computer, and engaging in activities that bring you joy, can help prevent feeling burnt out. Celebrate your achievements, big or small, and allow yourself to be proud of how far you’ve come. I’m trying to do this myself too by reminding myself that I am on my own journey, not letting mistakes define me, and adopting a growth mindset when encountering challenges. The shift in mindset can be difficult but it can also help relieve some of the stress and pressure. Maybe one of these strategies will work for you but you’ll never know if you don’t try. 

Ultimately, the feeling of never doing enough is a natural consequence of the high expectations and pressures of college life. However, by acknowledging these feelings and giving ourselves time to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health, the feeling can become less overbearing. Embracing these challenges as opportunities for growth can help you become even more resilient. It’s a struggle for me too but remember, it doesn’t always have to be this never-ending marathon. Take a deep breath. It’ll be okay :).

Phoebe is a current third-year at UC Davis majoring in Economics and Science & Technology Studies. She hopes to attend law school in the future. Outside of her academic interests, she enjoys trying new foods, spending time with friends, and traveling.