Where to Draw the Line: Dealing with Stress in College

It is without a doubt that being a college student entails a lot of responsibility. From the load of homework we bring upon ourselves to the extra tasks we take on such as extracurricular activities and a job, being a college student is a job by itself. Day by day, going through the same routine gets harder and harder as you physically and mentally want to shut down; but the only thing that keeps you going is the finish line, that last semester right before you graduate where you will finally receive your diploma. The idea that “I need to graduate no matter what it takes” is a common ideology among dedicated college students whether your parents have money to send you to college or you have to work two jobs in order to stay enrolled. Dedication, jobs, and other activities aside, it is important for students to know their limits and where to draw the line between being a dedicated student and putting too much pressure on oneself.

The most common experience college students go through throughout their educational career is stress. In relation to a higher education, stress is the result of multiple college experiences and situations. From peer pressure to the amount of school work we receive, stress is a major problem for college students across the United States. According to stressdemolisher.com, 80% of college students state that every now and then they experience daily stress. Daily stress can come in the form of the extra paper the professor assigned or even the desire to be socially accepted amongst your colleagues so one doesn’t feel alone. Above all else, it’s that drive to not fail our classes that prepare us for our future, the parents that are investing their own money to send us to college, and more importantly, ourselves, that keep college students under the pressure to finish college strong. But even with the daily stress that college students go through, knowing your own limit and where to draw that line is paramount in order to be successful.

As a college student, it’s easy to get sucked into the social norms of dedicating your life to your education. Each day I find myself as a student wondering if my studies have become the most important factor in my life. Have I drawn a clear line as to where my dedication to school exceeds other responsibilities and my own comfort zone? Pensive about my own life, I still continue to stress about attaining straight A’s but at the same time not being looked upon as uncool because of my “perfectionist” view about college. Even with my own insecurities about my educational direction, I know never to lose myself in the process. Building on social, educational, and organizational strategies assist me in not becoming stressed to the point of self-destruction. When I have piles of homework I have to complete in a short amount of time, I use a planner to write everything down neatly to form a schedule which mentally saves me from destructing. In addition, I try to take breaks and eat so I won’t physically break down. I’ll also sometimes study with classmates so we can bask in our stress together and find relief with encouraging words and hopefully a finished assignment. With these different strategies, the outcome is always one of physical, social and mental contentment.

If nothing is taught to you through the hands-on experience of being stressed in college, one thing you can gain from the college experience is that all students have our unique way of handling our individual situations. Speaking to your advisor or the school psychiatrist will never change that factor. But beneath all that, the question still remains: Where do we draw this line? The separation between dedication and stress? Social acceptance and overwhelming despondency? It’s wherever you feel comfortable. Although you should never settle less than your own personal goals, your own physical and mental health comes before any inflicted pressure to become successful.


The Break: We STAY Mad – Our Harsh Criticism of Ourselves (PODCAST)

Listen in as KC and the family discuss how the Black community can be its own worst enemy in our practice of openly criticizing each other. Podcast guests include, Chris Lehman, Toria Williams, Malcolm Darrell, John Wood, and Jamila Farwell.

If you have commentary about this topic, feel free to call the hotline at (323) 455-4219!!!

Movers & Shakers: Erdolo Eromo (AUDIO)

Erdolo Eromo is one of the youngest senior executives in the mobile industry, and serves as Senior Vice President of Sales and Client Services at Mobile Messenger. He is responsible for identifying opportunities and designing strategies for sales growth. By many, Erdolo is considered to be an expert in identifying trends in the mobile commerce space as well as finding new opportunities in which the mobile phone can be used as a billing platform.

Listen in as we chat about his move to Los Angeles from Addis Ababa, Ethopia when he was eight years old, how his industry is thriving in the midst of a weak economy, and how everyone has an opportunity to make money in the world of mobile technology.

Photos by Mark Valenzuela Photography

Finish What You Start

Calvin Mackie is an inventor, activist, critically acclaimed author, internationally renowned motivational speaker, and successful entrepreneur. A lifelong resident of New Orleans, Dr. Mackie graduated from high school with low SAT scores requiring him to undertake special remedial classes before he was admitted to Morehouse College. He completed his degree in Mathematics, graduating Magna Cum Laude and a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. He was simultaneously awarded a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, where he subsequently earned his Master and Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering. He wrote and incredible book titled,  A VIEW FROM THE ROOF – LESSONS FOR LIFE & BUSINESS, which I have read. These are a few of his words that help me to raise my son to be a better Black man, and that inspire me to be a better father.


I have two beautiful sons and instilling a healthy work ethic in them has become my life’s obsession. Both of my boys, like most children, are real active and love sports. They have played t-ball, baseball and basketball. A couple of years ago, they decided that they wanted to start Taekwondo. Many of their friends were taking lessons and it intrigued them. The difference between most sports and karate is that most sports are played during a finite season, with a beginning and clearly visible and reachable finish.

However, karate has many features different levels of achievement, which are denoted by belt color. The amount of time to attain a new level is dependent on the commitment and progress of the individual. So, when I gave my boys the go-ahead, it came with a stern caveat that they would not be allowed to quit until they’d reached highest level: the black belt.

In traditional karate, the belt and its color have significant meaning. The karate belt’s color indicates the rank of the person wearing it. Karate belt colors tend to progress from lightest to darkest, with white as the almost universal starting color, and either red or black being the final belt. In Taekwondo, a common belt progression is white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black, with different “degrees” marking achievements between belts.

So we explained to our sons that starting karate meant a pledge to earn a black belt-which is a minimum two-year commitment. At the age of five, two years is over 40% of your time on earth! But they both agreed and started their trek towards the black belt.

As karate became more physically intense, one of my sons became increasingly resistant about going to practice. He would say his stomach hurt, or that his head hurt, and he would ultimately shed tears. In spite of his antics, I reminded him of his commitment, and marched him out the door to practice. He would cry all the way to practice, but I did not allow him to quit!

Recently, on a Saturday morning, I awakened to the happiest little boy I had seen in a long time. He was signing, skipping and just plain giddy. I asked, “Son why are you so happy?”

“It’s my last day of karate, daddy! Today I test for my Black belt!”, he responded. He skipped into the gym and began testing: he punched and kicked his opponents and broke the board with his hand and foot. When he finished, he was absolutely elated. After the test, his instructor called us over and explained to us that the judges thought he could have done better and didn’t pass him.

I looked over as disappointment rolled over my little man’s face and tears filled his eyes. His mom tried to console him, told him that it would be okay, that other kids before him had failed a test, but they eventually received their black belts.

I approached my son and explained to him that although other people had failed in their quest to get their black belt, this was about him and that hehad failed. I said, “On Monday you know where you will be after school? He asked, “Where?” I said, “At karate, because Mackie men”, and he finished the statement, “Finish what they start!” I said, “Yes, Let’s Go Home!” Wiping his eyes, he walked alongside me and his mom, knowing that quitting was not an option!!

Many of us know people who are eager, energetic starters: folks who are always jumping from thing to thing, always claiming that whatever’s new is better… and that it’s going to stick. They start businesses, begin writing books, join clubs, quickly jump into relationships, or jump from job to job. As soon as they get down the road and the excitement wanes… they quit!

So many people these days seem to be looking for an exit-a new road means not having to drive all the way down the one you started on. People are quitting jobs without a backup plan, kids are dropping out of school, and teachers (especially within their first five years) are quitting the profession in record numbers.

We recently witnessed former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin quit her elected position of Governor. More people are getting divorced than are staying married. Most people quit their New Year’s resolution to lose weight every year, even after paying gym membership. Basketball fans have accused superstar Lebron James of quitting during the 4th quarter of big important games. And, if you can imagine this, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, in August 2011, 2.03 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs-these are the highest figures since November 2008! And the US joblessness rate is still hovering over 9%!

As a people, we Americans are famous for taking the initiative-but we need to work on our follow-through.

As a young man, working on my doctorate, there were many nights I thought about quitting; I was tired, I was lonely, I cried, and wanted out. My friends were out there working, making money, partying, buying houses… and there I was, still broke, struggling and studying. Sometimes, on those long, tough nights, I would hear my dad and my other elders speak to me: they made it clear that I must continue, and I hope to make it clear to you that you must continue and commit to finishing what you start. They forged three nuggets into my psyche that I hope will help you reach the goals before you:

1. Your Word is your bond. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you are not going to do it, then don’t say it. People will know you by the credibility of your word. Can I trust what you say?

2. It is always darkest right before dawn.Anything worth having will take you through challenges. It is when the challenges are the toughest that we must knuckle down and get through. It is often at these most difficult intervals that the reward is closest.

3. Quitting is a habit. Never say “it doesn’t matter”. I don’t care if it’s karate, high school football, being a candy striper or a boy scout… walking away from anything helps foster the mentality that it’s okay to walk away from everything. If you don’t care about giving up on these things now, what’s going to stop you from walking away from school, or your marriage, or your kids—or your dreams—later?

Source: Calvin Mackie


The Vision

One of my mentors once told me my greatest strength is my ability to see the vision. I didn’t know what he meant by that at the time but as I watch my life unfold in the way I see it in my mind’s eye, I’m clear.

I never once regretted my decision to quit my very cushy job as a producer for CBS to follow the paper-thin slice of a vision that was embedded deep within me. People called me crazy, dumb, whimsical and naive. I had opposition from family members and friends but I pressed forward believing that I knew I was being forced in a direction beyond logic. I had to follow my instincts at all cost.

Today, all of my sacrifices became worth it when I saw my work on the cover of VIBE magazine. Sure I’ve done TV shows and worked with some big names but there is NOTHING like being in print. Much like when I was a journalist I felt that same rush of adrenaline when I saw what I created. I cried immediately and I don’t cry. I was overwhelmed for more reasons that I can attempt to explain. I can only liken it to what it must be like to hear your song on the radio for the first time. I’m AMPED!

It’s 1:47 AM the eve before another shoot but I can’t sleep. I had to write to immortalize this feeling. I need proof that I felt like this. On the days that are not as sweet I will be able to remind myself to wait…on it.  I haven’t “made it” but I’m well on my way. When Beyonce calls then I will have ARRIVED lol. I can quit after that j/k.

This blog is my diary. I do it when I feel like it and talk about whatever, however I want. Thanks for being a part of my sporadic purging.

Dream-chasers have a special place in my heart because I am you. Start catching dreams not just chasing. I got mine in a headlock!

Be a Visionary.

Mikki Bey is a Los Angeles-based makeup artist who believes in the power of the universe to bring her all the desires of her heart. Fearless, determined and capable – she’s a bad mamajama! She can be reached at mikki@mikkibey.com.