Each fall, Wellesley students begin their new academic year with hopes and aspirations. While these aspirations can set a positive tone for the year to come, many students and themselves wrestling with unattainable goals as the year goes on. Wellesley students are frequently told to practice stress relief and self-care, although the root of the problem is rarely discussed. Habitually, we create “Wendy Wellesley,” a personification of the perfect Wellesley student. While students can agree upon certain characteristics that Wendy has, such as perfect attendance, on time assignments and stellar participation, the inner workings of Wendy are highly personal and vary among individuals. Wendy becomes the epitome of a student’s insecurities; if a student feels they are lacking in involvement, their Wendy is on three executive boards and president of an organization. Once we realize that Wendy is no more than a manifestation our own exaggerated insecurities, we need to individually rectify and put to rest our Wendy Wellesley.
It’s typical for Wellesley students to make light of the Wendy persona. While it builds community to bond over common strife, the conversation about Wendy often strays away from her problematic conception. As Wellesley students repeatedly come together to create a universal Wendy, we lose sight of how our own insecurities play into the Wendy ideal. Conversations about Wendy Wellesley should not only be about finding a common denominator, but personally reflecting on what makes our Wendy different. Students all have basic strengths to improve on, but this shouldn’t be conflated with an unrealistic goal that we set for ourselves due to self- consciousness. While Wellesley students view their Wendy as a personal ideal, they also should view her as unattainable and, perhaps, even unwanted.
As students try to justify their creation of their Wendy Wellesley, they tend to seek those who seem to represent who their Wendy is. These students may be exemplary, but they aren’t Wendy Wellesley. Each student has their own interpretation of this loose definition, and a student that someone might perceive as a Wendy probably does not view themself in that way. They too, have their own Wendy who is an unrealistic ideal. If students project their fictitious Wendy Wellesley onto a real student, they are displacing important feelings that they need to rectify among themselves. This displacement also causes unnecessary competition that occurs between students, which can create a hostile environment. Students seeking Wendy should look at themselves introspectively and realize that fellow Wellesley students are on a fundamentally different path.
The biggest campus-wide stressors are the various expectations that are placed upon students. The various spam and yers from nearly every organization tell students to participate more. Every extra credit assignment, academic lecture and sporting event implores students to participate in some marginally greater amount than they currently do. While a well-rounded persona is what each student strives for, we also need to realize the cost of perpetuating such an ideal. Mental and physical health needs to be valued more than participating in academic and social activities. Accepting this would cut down on a few of the insecurities that students face.
The Wendy Wellesley character is problematic. She is the incarnation of students’ insecurities about not participating more in academic and social life, and should be rejected as an ideal as a whole. In her place should be individuals who recognize their limitations and dissipate the self-created myth that each student should be doing more. Students need to recognize that Wendy Wellesley doesn’t exist: she is our worst selves.