Ask Becky: Victimized by the degree

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She’s here, she’s stressed, and she’s moderately well dressed. Becky’s back with another question that needs answering! We only have one this week, but boy is it ever juicy.

NotSoPsyched asks, “My friends and I split up this year as they all got scholarships to various universities. We all went into Arts with a focus on Psych, but lately they’ve been belittling my degree as I only go to UNBSJ. How do I stop this?”

Hi friend!

My first piece of advice is to understand that the problem isn’t with you, or what school you’ve chosen to go to, or what your major is, but with the people who are choosing to be unkind. Oftentimes, people who are derisive or nasty about someone else’s accomplishments/decisions (academic or otherwise) are deeply insecure themselves and need to feel superior. So, when your friends look down on you and your degree, maybe implying that they’re working harder than you or doing more, they’re really interested in making themselves feel better, and not overly worried about how that makes you feel in the process. Academics can be competitive, and people don’t like to feel second best, and sometimes that can translate into an eagerness to make someone else feel badly instead of being supportive.

It’s also important to remember that even though you’re all doing the same degree, your programs are very different by virtue of being at different schools. None of your friends know or completely understand the work and dedication that your program demands alongside your own life, and if you’re getting better marks than they are, don’t let them convince you that it’s because your program is somehow easier. There’s no question that your friends are treating you unfairly and it’s understandable that you feel ganged up on.

As for how to stop it? It all starts with a conversation. Getting defensive about your work, or wanting to belittle their work in return, is unhelpful, but explaining the situation is the way to go. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to justify the work you’re doing–you don’t need an APA essay with a Works Cited page on how hard you’re working in university or on the merits of your school. As your friends, the fact that they’re hurting you should be enough, and I wouldn’t participate on any debate as to the merits of what they’re saying, because there is no good reason for unkindness.

They might get defensive, but the stress and anxiety that comes from people who are supposed to care about you constantly saying that what you’re doing doesn’t have any worth is horrible, and you don’t need to be going through it. Explain how you feel, and if they’re decent people, they’ll apologize and you can all carry on. If things don’t improve, the other option is to separate yourself from those sources of negativity and slay your degree. If they can’t appreciate how hard you’re working, then I’m sure that the people in your faculty here at UNBSJ will.

Best of luck!



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Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.