“It be like that sometimes.” It’s a powerful phrase. It’s succinct. It’s trendy. It at once acknowledges the trials in life while providing the comfort that struggles are normal, even vital, parts of life. “Same” and “me” are equally useful.
Like anything powerful, these phrases must be wielded carefully. When it’s 4:58 and you realize you didn’t use your Durfee’s swipe? It be like that sometimes. Your friend ordered her fourth meal of the day on Snackpass? Same. You walk past someone in a private study room in Bass and they’re clearly watching Netflix instead of doing the problem set in front of them? Literally me.
It’s great to show solidarity with one another. When I tell someone I’m woefully underprepared for section and they can relate, it’s comforting to know that other people are sometimes underprepared, too. Yale is hard, and hearing that it’s hard for everyone reminds me that my best is all I can do.
But sometimes, I want a little more. If I studied really hard for a Spanish exam and still got my usual, lower-than-desirable grade, I don’t always want to hear a “same.” I think sometimes we all need space to be genuinely upset, even about little things, and to hear genuine messages of comfort from our friends.
I think the problem is that most undergrads share a lot of the same issues. We can get caught up in our own stress to the point that it becomes all too easy to minimize the problems of others. I often catch myself saying “same,” without even thinking first.
I want to do more for my friends, because I know that sometimes, I need more support.
There’s another reason I want to be careful about how I address the problems of others: because there has been a time when I was slipping, and didn’t really recognize it. I was completely overwhelmed by the first semester of college. I didn’t sleep enough; I didn’t eat enough; I felt wholly inadequate and unable to keep up. I had heard so much that the first semester of college was rough for everyone, and I felt that I needed to prove I could handle Yale. And worse, I assumed that all the struggles I was going through were acceptable. After all, Yale meme pages are full of people relating to sleep deprivation, mental exhaustion and a general culture of day-to-day survival.
One night, I stayed up until 6 a.m. to finish a paper because I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t bring myself to start it until the day before it was due. I thought that was acceptable. I could imagine everyone saying “it be like that sometimes.” But in that instant I was the one with the headache, I was the one that was jumpy and I was the one who wanted to curl up in the library and sleep.
Because people need to sleep. The culture we’ve created that normalizes suffering — not taking care of yourself, not paying attention to your emotional needs until all your homework is done, being competitive about who is the busiest — isn’t healthy. And it’s fully embodied in the phrases we use to speak to each other.
When everyone only says “same” to stressful situations, it becomes clear that we accept those situations as part of our campus culture. Of course, we all have to work hard, and stress is a normal part of college. But when we shrug off unhealthy behaviors — drinking too much coffee to stay up, learning to function on a sleep deficit, coping with stress through alcohol, or shopping, or any other vice — we send the message that these things are okay, that they are merely means to an end. We all know that this isn’t the ideal, but when we accept the unhealthy habits we so often see on campus, we send an implied message that it’s okay to put your health on the back burner. And it’s not.
So the next time you see someone stressed — a “Yale sad boi” on Instagram, a suitemate always coming in late from the library, or a friend constantly anxious about getting all their work done — don’t use the same phrases to comfort them all the time. Sometimes, they may need to hear that others are similarly stressed, and an “it be like that sometimes” is appropriate. But sometimes, we need more from each other — an “Are you okay?” or an “Is there anything I can do to help?” It do be like that sometimes, but it shouldn’t be like that all the time: Don’t let it be.
Abigail Grimes is a first year in Pauli Murray College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .