We’ve all been subjected to the Gustavus’ peppy, cheerful rouse, ending on the words “Beat ‘em bust ‘em that’s our custom, Gusties will shine.”
While this song might be fun to sing at football games and other Gustavus events, it can have some potentially damaging effects. The phrase ‘Gusties will shine’ can set up an unhealthy campus culture resulting in students experiencing imposter syndrome and feeling like they are failing if they aren’t “shining”. Additionally, the phrase completely ignores the fact that college is hard and that having a range of emotions is healthy and completely okay.
First, let’s focus on the imposter syndrome aspect. According to the American Psychological Association, imposter syndrome usually occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They will often feel that what they have achieved is due to luck rather than their own skills and that they will eventually be seen as a fraud.
For college students, these doubts about their own abilities can make them feel like everyone else has everything together and they are the only ones falling apart. Because of their doubts, they keep these feelings bottled inside, which raises stress levels immensely.
This relates to the phrase ‘Gusties will shine’ because it sets the expectation that students here are always doing great. Those who feel like they are falling behind or just struggling with an everyday issue might want to hide it because they don’t want to be seen as a failure.
Furthermore, the phrase completely ignores just how hard college is. The American Psychological Association and the National Alliance for Mental Illness cite mental health challenges as the greatest struggle for college students today. In addition to these serious health conditions, college students also face everyday challenges just from being away from home for the first time. For example, dealing with finances, trying to stay on top of homework and trying to avoid getting the cold or flu are all added stressors in a students’ life.
For many of us, college is a time to try new things, experiment with what we want to do, and (most importantly) make mistakes. I’m sure many of us can easily recall a college moment where we were definitely not shining. Crying in the library, doing poorly on a test, experiencing a lousy relationship‒these are common experiences many Gusties have had that are generally a normal part of college.
Of course, if you are really having trouble in college, please don’t feel bad about going to the counseling center or seeking help elsewhere. If you are truly struggling to the point where you can’t function in your everyday life, I urge you to reach out to a professional for help.
However, for those of us struggling with less serious issues, I do think we need to acknowledge that having a range of emotions (which means we aren’t totally happy one hundred percent of the time) is normal and to expect otherwise is ridiculous.
Obviously, this is all a bit over the top, and not many students are likely to read that closely into the lyrics of the Gustie rouser. However, the phrase is an overarching part of campus culture, and sometimes those not-so-obvious details have a big impact on our unconscious thoughts. As a college student, I think we all know it’s impossible to constantly being shining. While the phrase ‘Gusties have a healthy range of emotions and know it’s okay not to be okay’ might be a bit lengthy and not as fun to cheer at sporting events, it does have a better underlying message. Maybe it’s time the traditional ‘Gusties will shine’ phrase is re-evaluated.