In an attempt to both help out the college bound (or re-bound?) student out, and also vent about some things that have been numero uno (or I suppose numero cinco, in this case) pet peeves of mine since my college days, I present, the 5 most stupid status games you’re likely to encounter in college and why you should avoid them like a sun-ripened skunk carcass.
These are definitely more common in college, but you’ll find variants of them all over the place, and they are major drains on your life, health, productivity, and happiness.
These are actually all quite closely related, but I broke it into a list of 5 because lists of 5 are cool, and because doing so exposes some useful nuances.
Stupid Status Game #1: Look At How Sleep-Deprived I Am
This is peak stupid right here. Some people don’t need a lot of sleep, which is an amazing advantage IF you’re one of the lucky few who has it naturally.
Otherwise you are literally making yourself dumber, making harder to learn, compromising your health, aging yourself prematurely, and a whole laundry list of other negative outcomes, some of which may become irreversible after a certain point even if you later correct the behavior.
Also, if it wasn’t clear from the above, the cognitive penalty you pay from chronic sleep deprivation is almost making it take longer to do your work, so the time you save by sleeping less is not really saved at all – in addition to the negative health effects.
For some reason, there is a certain type of person who wears this state as a badge of pride.
I won’t attempt to analyze it, because it makes no sense to me.
Suffice to say, do not be this kind of person.
Personal sleep needs are highly variable, but if you’re frequently tired or have trouble getting up in the morning, you’re almost certainly under-sleeping or having poor-quality sleep.
Don’t live this way, and certainly do aim for or brag about it.
Stupid Status Game #2: Look How Overworked I Am
This one is a major contributor to Stupid Status Game #1, and it really boils down to signing up for more work, usually more classes, than you have to or is useful.
Now, some people just naturally have the ability to handle huge amounts of work without being overworked, and again, this is a big advantage if you are naturally this way.
However, if you’re not, forcing yourself won’t make it so. By learning better habits and work techniques you can often significantly expand how much work you can healthily handle, but there are limits, and there is no real advantage to pushing it in most cases.
Even if you can truly boost your output for awhile, you invite burnout, which can seriously compromise said productivity for a LONG time – meaning that you’re overall gains are likely negative over the long run.
Sign up for a reasonable load, do your work well, and be sure you have enough time to take care of yourself and enjoy life.
Stupid Status Game #3: Look How Stressful My Life Is
Again related to the previous two, but people who play this game specifically seem to enjoy broadcasting to the world how stressed everything makes them feel.
Maybe it’s a way to get attention, maybe it’s a way to justify coping mechanisms that the complainer knows on some level are dysfunctional – like procrastination or excessive alcohol consumption – but whatever the case, it’s bad news and you should not engage in it.
For starters, if voluntary choices in your life (like overcommitment – see below) are actually making you this stressed, you should make different choices.
If they aren’t actually stressing you that much, but you just talk it up to get attention, then a) you’re being immature, and b) you’re probably convincing yourself that you are in fact that stressed, and your body is likely to follow along and actually engage in destructive stress reactions.
I don’t know to what extent positive thinking can make you healthier, but negative thinking, especially combined with verbal affirmation, can most assuredly make you less healthy.
Stupid Status Game #4: Look At All My Commitments (and please Infer that I am SUPERHUMANLY PRODUCTIVE)!
The people who play this game are not necessarily stressed, overworked, or sleep-deprived – though they are USUALLY some combination thereof. This game is more making a whole bunch of shallow commitments that don’t add anything – like being an officer of a whole bunch of different clubs and showing up for only 5-10 minutes of each meeting.
As I said, this may or may not have negative personal consequences, but it’s virtually guaranteed to be a waste of time, and contrary to what many think it almost certainly won’t win you any real resume points.
Stupid Status Game #5: Look At How Little I Care
Now, I’m all for focusing your energy where it is most productive, and there are certainly things in life and especially in college that you just have to get through and do “well enough” (where “well enough” depends on where you are and what you want).
However, if you adopt this attitude too broadly, you’re headed for a heap’o’trouble.
If you have the ability to not care and do great, then good for you. But talking about it excessively is unkind to those who can’t do the same, and just makes you a jerk.
I’ve known people who can get through difficult coursework with minimal apparent care or effort, but such people are VERY rare, and it’s even rarer still that they do that well when they leave the structured, highly forgiving environment of the modern university.
I’ve seen very smart people adopt this attitude to fit into a social group and be able to get away with it for awhile, but eventually talk themselves into really believing it, at which point they usually crash and burn.
Be Smart, Don’t Play
At some point you’re likely to encounter people playing these stupid status games, if you haven’t already.
If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it might be tempting to play along or at least feel like you’re something less than the people who engage in such nonsense.
It’s maladaptive social signalling in most cases, and going along will make your performance worse without actually making anyone like you more.