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Podcast Helps Students Manage Grown-up Life
The post-college world of careers, mortgages and building a life can seem so daunting and mysterious to young people that the process has acquired its own tongue-in-cheek verb. “Adulting” may sound like a joke, but to Kristina Mereigh, director of wellness programming at Smith, and Ana Devlin Gauthier, senior leadership coordinator in the Wurtele Center for Leadership, the word is a stand-in for some serious anxiety among students and young alumnae.
“Ana and I are both 28,” Mereigh said. “We’re approached all the time by students looking for advice, and we noticed they are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Usually it’s about friendships, academic stress, career stress and finances.”
To address some of those issues, the pair created a podcast called Attempted Adults, which launched last November with an episode on friendship. In it, they discuss class friends, work friends, hobby friends and soul friends and finding a balance among them. They talk about how to be honest, how to deal with fair-weather friends and how to handle the hurt when a friend “ghosts” you, meaning that with no explanation they stop returning texts or phone calls.
Mereigh and Devlin Gauthier plan to offer a podcast each month, covering everything from making friends to managing finances and planning meals. “We kind of serve in a big sisterly role and as supposed adults who are still learning,” Mereigh said.
They got the idea for a podcast when they heard students echoing some of the same “adulting” issues they had, such as paying off loans. The Center for Media Production gave them access to a recording booth on campus, and they were off.
In December the podcast addressed how to mitigate stress. “Hyper stress,” Mereigh noted, affects millennials more than it did their parents. Research backs this up: According to a survey conducted last year by the American Psychiatric Association and reported in Newsweek, millennials are the most anxious generation, especially those who are women and people of color.
Each offers her own go-tos for managing stress. For Mereigh, these include taking consistent breaks, stretching and watching Netflix cooking shows. Devlin Gauthier likes the endorphins she gets from hiking, biking and going to the gym and also “sharing calm space with someone.” Their homework assignment: 15 minutes of daily self-care, doing such things as “notice five beautiful things in the world” and “take time to move.”
Reviewers on iTunes give the podcast five stars. One writes, “These two are smart, warm and witty! Big fan—and I think we all need this right now.” Another says, “Great tips every episode.”
“We hope our listeners hear that everyone is going through things and that even people who seem to have it all together don’t,” Mereigh said. “That’s the beauty of life. It’s messy and hard.”
Spring 2019 Smith Alumnae Quarterly