Ask Tamara: College is Stressing Me Out
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Dear Tamara:
I am a sophomore in college and I am really beginning to get stressed out! And I don't have anyone to talk to about it. I can't talk to my parents, all they care about are my grades and making sure I am not wasting their money. The last thing I need is for them checking up on me every five minutes.
Dear Stressed:
First let me assure you that your parents care way more about you, your health, and your wellbeing than they do your G.P.A. And although your grades and expensive tuition are neck-in-neck for second place, you really are their main concern. Even if it doesn't feel like it at times. 
Stress can be a very difficult to manage and can even be dangerous if not dealt with properly. I encourage your parents some credit and talk to your parents. You might be surprised to find that they understand a lot more than you think they do. Even if they do not share your college experience, they have undoubtedly experienced stressful situations in their own lives.
If you still do not feel that you can go to your parents, seek out a professor, counselor, or resident assistant. There are also usually multiple campus resources, organizations, programs, and facilities that help students manage stressful situations and problems. Sometimes it can be easier to talk with someone not as close to us as our parents. But the important thing to do is seek help instead of trying to manage on your own or turning to activities, sources, and devices that help you temporarily null or avoid the situation, but offer no real way to manage or alleviate the stress or the root of the problem.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness or defeat. Many times college students just want to prove that they can finally be on their own and handle their life situations, but being an adult is not about handling everything, or having all of the answers. 
Part of growing up and being a responsible adult is knowing when and how to ask for help and seek solutions to your problems. That also means dealing with stress head on; recognizing and owning up to your actions or the events that led up to the stress; and eliminating stress.
I have a college student myself and I tell her all the time that she does not have to handle things on her own, even if she directly caused the stress or situation. Even if I get upset when she comes to me or emotionally react to a situation, I will still help her in any way that I can. In other words, as her mother, she might have to hear my mouth a little, but I will still bend over backwards to help her manage a stressful situation. I am sure your parents feel the same way!
Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at
This was printed in the August 14, 2011 - August 27, 2011 Edition

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