“I want to quit school.”

I have heard and repeated this sentence a billion times in the past week. The transition from finding my way to classes for the first time to staying in the library until it closes was unbelievably fast. In fact, I remember going to Bass in the second week of classes and leaving happily at 9 p.m. As I made my way to the exit, the security guard kindly reminded me that Bass would be open until 2 a.m. from now on. This made me laugh at the time; why would I need to stay in the library until 2 a.m.? But he knew something, and I am no longer laughing.

I first told myself that my exhaustion was the sophomore slump, especially exacerbated by the transition from a pandemic Yale to a semi-normal one. My classes no longer just introduce subjects, and they go beyond my comprehension so often that I question my abilities. Extracurricular activities are once again vibrant as we all embrace the return to a full-capacity campus. I now understand why every club application I submitted so far asked me about my other commitments and why many professors warn us about the sensitive balance between extracurriculars and classes. On top of academics and extracurriculars, we also strive to find the time to socialize — grabbing meals with friends, attending mixers and social gatherings, planning small trips and activities for the weekend. It is no surprise that we end up sacrificing at least one aspect of our lives, whether it is sleep, a healthy diet or our personal alone time, in our efforts to have it all.

This is not just a sophomore slump. This is a Yale slump and it is very real.

There is a big difference between having it all and chasing it all, and it is the latter that we are very familiar with. Duck syndrome is not just particular to Stanford — paddling furiously is also a reality for many Yale students, including myself. We secretly take pride in our cramped, color-coordinated Google Calendars. We try to look fashionable everywhere we go, hiding the stress we undergo to maintain our facade of calm and control. At Yale, being “fashionable” does not only revolve around our looks, though. That is why we strive to be perceived as an interesting person, rattling off fascinating stories and offering niche fun facts to display our knowledge and worldliness. The paddling goes on as we ignore our fatigue under the water.  The vicious cycle of stress often leads to sleep deprivation, burnouts and even worse: mental strains. We find ourselves zoning out in the middle of class and taking twice as long to finish assignments. We also miss out on the beauty of Yale and college life in general as we hurriedly scramble from activity to activity.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Taking even a little bit of time to ourselves, or even just admitting that we need time to breathe, to think, to reflect feels like we are missing out. But sometimes choosing to miss out can prevent having to miss out in the long run. It is up to our personal tastes to decide how to cure our duck syndrome. Going to Cross Campus and just enjoying the view helps. Or taking ourselves out of the Yale bubble by going out of New Haven even for a day can provide a good rest, both mentally and physically.

This also needs to be addressed at the level of the university. Existing mental health structures seriously lack the necessary resources to consider the depth of this issue. Yale needs to invest more in stress management for students, and academic departments should collaborate to ensure that students have manageable workloads.

The list of solutions could go on forever, but our success in addressing this issue ultimately hinges on us acknowledging our duck problem. Only then can we stop furiously paddling just beneath the surface.