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Dear Haverfriend: Stress Spiraling and Noisy People in Magill

Hey, everyone! I am a real Haverford student and I have strong opinions about your life. Just remember that I can’t substitute for professional advice because I am an undergrad and consequently I know nothing.

Dear Haverfriend,

I just completely bombed an assignment. It’s not for my major and it’s only one small part of my grade, but I can’t stop thinking about how badly I screwed up and how I’ll never get into med school/find a job/be successful/etc. How do I stop spiraling?


Reality Check Needed

Hey Reality Check,

This is an interesting, sad, and super real problem that I think a lot of students, not just at Haverford, deal with. Our self-concept can be so tied up in our academic achievements for any number of different reasons, from the very innocuous (“I don’t want my professor to think I’m lazy”) to the very serious (“My parents worked so hard to send me to college and I can’t fail them”). Race, class, gender, ability–sometimes these intersecting parts of our identities make us feel like we have to prove our worth in an academic environment, because society sucks. There are so many reasons why you might be feeling this way, and all of them are totally valid.

I think it would be helpful for you to try gently breaking the false links that your brain is creating here. Yes, grades are important, but your brain is trying to convince you that this one grade is a shiny golden yardstick specifically meant to measure your self-worth– and that’s just not true.

It’s incredibly tempting to try to tell your fortune based on this one assignment. But as they say, God laughs in the face of men’s plans. This one grade is probably not a predictor of either of your success or your failure as you’re currently defining those terms in your mind. In all probability, your definition of success with change, your GPA will go up and down, and you will continue to face challenges both big and small throughout college and in your life. Developing a cognitive style wherein your sense of self-worth is not totally tied up with your external achievements will help you deal with the inevitable setbacks in your life. I would strongly suggest visiting CAPS as a starting point to explore where your negative thoughts might be coming from. I’ve heard a lot of valid concerns about CAPS, but it’s the best option for Haverford students to get free counseling. Other possible resources: friends, family, older students, the Women*s Center, the CCPA. Regardless of who you decide to talk to, make sure that you stay connected and get some good people on your side.

Dear Haverfriend,

What do you do when someone in Magill is making loud but unintentional noise, like typing really aggressively or eating a snack? Can I ask them to quiet down or should I just suffer in silence?


Dear Anon,

Ugggggghhhhh, I am that guy! I always munch on snacks in Magill because I am a horrible person, and I deserve nothing but your contempt. My advice would be to move somewhere else or wear headphones, because I think your request for silence will probably just be met with the cold, dead zombie stare of a student approaching finals period. Good luck!

That’s it for this week! If you have a question or are in need of advice, use the form below to submit something for next week’s column.

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