In a world where everyone is trying to get in “Formation,” it is quite alright not to have all of life’s answers aligned in a perfect row.
By Jaimee Swift, Editor-At-Large
Posted 10:55 AM EST, Sun., Sept. 18, 2016
With the fall semester of school already revved up in full motion, many concerns and fears loom amongst students — well, at least I know for me it does. Trying to figure out life’s next steps as a first-year PhD student at Howard, I constantly question myself about my present and future: Can I even do this? What can I do next to enhance my career? How can I be a changemaker? I can’t even get my financial aid on time; will I even survive at The Mecca? Irrespective of academic position, age, or background, many students not only feel the impending doom of self-doubt, but also the personal and societal weight of whether or not they are doing enough to be successful in this capitalistic and status-ridden society.
We all have the same 24 hours a day, however, Beyoncé’s 24 hours, are something special — they are considered to be “superhuman.” The saying, “you have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé”, not only speaks to the singer/songwriter’s preeminent commercial success, power and overall, self-determination, but how we “mere mortals” need to step up our game and ultimately, have the same drive as Mrs. Carter. In her hit song “Formation,” the music mogul explicitly outlines how she “slay, all day”, as she sings: “I dream it, I work hard, I grind til’ I own it.” Her accolades span the socio-economic and even political gamut — she is the most nominated-woman in Grammy history; has attained global acclaim both as a solo artist and with Destiny’s Child; and her Lemonade album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, giving the super songstress her sixth million selling album. An entrepreneur, executive producer, actress, mother, wife, and philanthropist, Beyoncé’s was just named as one of the most powerful women by Fortune magazine, with the title of being the only celebrity on the power list.
Needless to say, Queen Bey has done it all, and then some; as she simultaneously snatches edges, makes lemonade out lemons, and always slays and stays in constant formation.
While the saying “you have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé” may be a joke, the pressure and anxiety to be successful, to compete, to finish school, get a job and to pay our limited coins to Sallie Mae is not; and for many millennials, these stressors come with mental, emotional, psychological, and even physical costs. According to a 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association, Millennials are the most stressed out generation in the United States; leaving us with the name “Generation Stress” to match our higher levels of pervasive worry. Based on the study, Millennials and Generation Xers “are most likely to say they are stressed by work, money, and job stability”, where work is somewhat or a significant stressor for 76 percent of Millennials. Stress has also catalyzed increased moodiness and vexation, as 44 percent of both Millennials and Gen-Xers report experiencing irritability and anger. Additionally, more than 52 percent of Millennials detail “having lain awake at night in the past month due to stress” and also difficulties in achieving healthy lifestyles.
For Black students and non-Black students of color, stress also can be compounded by “racial battle fatigue,” a theory coined by William Smith in the “Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society.” In her article “Christopher Dorner and the Racial Battle Fatigue”, Dr. Angelica V. Hernandez describes racial battle fatigue as “attributes to the psychological attrition that people of color experience from the daily battle of deflecting racialized insults, stereotypes, and discrimination.”
“There is a lot of constant stress and pressure on me to be successful,” said Kimi Farrington, a senior political science major at Howard University. “It comes from all angles — family, friends, society and even myself.”
“I am probably harder on myself than any of my family members,” Farrington continued. “And it is only because I want to be the generational change.”
While many of us are dealing with real-life concerns and trying to “make something of ourselves” by fulfilling as many personal responsibilities and professional aspirations in 24 hours, like Beyoncé, this is just a friendly reminder that you are doing more than enough. Although many students have an insatiable drive for success, do not let school, work, or anything else come in between your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Stop the self-doubt and worry. Stop comparing and contrasting yourself to others. You are not your peers. You are not your family or friends. You are not like anyone else on campus.
PSA: You are not Beyoncé. And that is okay — because you are you.
Be kind to yourself and believe that where you are now, is where you are supposed to be in your journey. You don’t need to know all the answers to life’s questions. While the stress at times is too real, rest assured in the fact that you bring something unique to Howard’s campus, to society, and ultimately, to the world.
Even though it may be askew now, trust and believe your life will get in “formation” — all in due time.