The concept of rugged individualism on which the United States was built still has plenty of useful applications in the modern world. When it comes to “big picture” problems, being able to dig yourself out of a hole on your own is a necessary skill. Building your own wealth, securing your future, and being able to provide for yourself are all things that are expected of us as members of society.
By our individualist ethic, we as a nation have brought ourselves to the top of the pile (or very near it). Surely such a strong, persevering ideal can’t have any shortcomings, right? While that may be true when it comes to making your way in the world, such isolation and individualism isn’t always for the best.
Every single person in the world deals with a weighty set of problems on a daily basis: personal relationships, work, school, debt, family rifts and countless others. We are all familiar with the pressures of everyday life. When these stressors begin to pile up, it feels like way more than one individual should have to cope with.
Luckily, most of us aren’t as alone as we believe we are. Almost everyone has friends, family or some other form of support group. Sometimes, it is OK to lean a little. Some of us are even the type of people who love to be leaned on. The ability to listen and understand is what separates friends from acquaintances.
That being said, no one wants to be — or to hear — a whiner. Most good friends are willing to listen to you talk about your breakup or your sick pet. They may be less willing to hear about how your nail polish chips all the time, or how you keep getting “friend-zoned” over and over again.
If you are utilizing your friends’ support skills, be sure to return the favor. The jerk who talks and talks but never listens has very few friends. Establishing close relationships with people who help keep you on your feet is essential in our busy, stressful world.
However, fantastic as they may be, friends can’t be the solution to all of your problems. For those of us who are students, many of our dilemmas revolve around the daily anxieties of academia. In this sphere, our failures are personalized: a failing grade on a paper, falling far below the curve on a test or single-handedly dragging a group presentation into the dirt. All of these mistakes point directly back to us as the individual student.
This heightened level of responsibility does not mean that we are alone in our troubles. Though university-level education is supposed to be challenging, there is an abundance of available resources for the struggling student.
Starting from the most obvious level are your professors. They don’t have to be distant, lecturing figures with whom you have no actual interaction. Though the letters that come after their names can be intimidating, most of them want to help you, if you want to be helped.
When it comes to paper writing, every single student should make at least one trip to the Writing and Media Center in Carver. Whether you’re a seasoned paper writer or someone who thought you’d left your last essay behind in college, a second opinion is always helpful. Add the tutors at the Center to your list of people who want nothing more than to help you.
When you get to the point where you are looking for all-important experience like an internship, there are yet more services available. The Career Services within each college are a great resource for resume help, cover letter advice, and interview assistance. Your resume, which you will potentially send to dozens of companies, deserves that second polish. The extra effort could be the difference between a career on the East Coast and another year in your parents’ basement.
For problems of a different variety, such as overwhelming anxiety or melancholy, the Student Counseling Services are a wonderful go-to resource. It often seems that many students don’t realize just how accessible the facilities there are. With the Biofeedback program, counseling, and other resources, Student Counseling Services attempts to help each person that walks through the door.
Fortunately for all of us, Iowa State wants us to flourish; it’s to their benefit if we stay healthy and successful as students. Individualism can be very helpful, especially when first living on your own or other such monumental steps, but be aware that there are countless resources for students right on campus.
Hailey Gross is a sophomore in English from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.