This past semester, I served as Campus Editor of The Carroll News, president of JCU’s Dance Ensemble, editorial intern at John Carroll Magazine and I took on 18 credits of classes. I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this because it was one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever made.
Needless to say, I was not able to give 100 percent of my efforts to each and everyone of those responsibilities. I think I took it all on to try to prove something to myself, but all I ended up proving was that I am a human, I am one person, and I don’t have to – can’t – do everything. I learned the importance of the word “no,” after it was a little too late.
Taking on all of these activities helped me learn my limits, that’s for sure. But it also made me realize something – why did I feel obligated to do all of those things in the first place? Does a person’s value really depend on how many clubs they are in or how many credits they take? Why did I think it would make me feel better because I did so many things?
I think it has become ingrained in college culture that the only way for a student to be successful is to do as many things as possible at the same time. Multi-tasking has become the norm, not the exception. More often than not, this type of lifestyle leaves a student stressed, burnt out and disappointed.
The worst part about this experience was that on the rare occasions when I had a few minutes to myself, I felt guilty about not editing this or planning that or writing this or scheduling that. What I realize now is that those times when I was able to relax were just as important as my responsibilities, because without doing things like sleeping, eating, exercising, or, God forbid, spending time with my friends, I wouldn’t have the energy or motivation to do anything else. When describing yourself, if the first thing that comes to mind is your classes or your extracurriculars, you might be a victim of the same hoax I fell for – that busyness equals worth.
My point is that we need to stop the glorification of busy. Being busy does not make you a more successful person or a more important person or a more popular person – it just makes you busy. As people, we do not always have to be doing something to be valuable and significant. What’s another hundredth of a point in your GPA or another job on your résumé if you’re not happy? People who live their lives focusing entirely on work or school aren’t really living it all. To quote some Pinterest wisdom (I warned you this would come), “Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to live.”
Going to Chipotle with your friends more times per week than you’d like to admit, laying in bed watching a good movie, taking a long walk on a beautiful day, having a good conversation with a family member – that is life. Life is not projects and planning events and editing newspapers and writing papers. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy (almost) every second I spend working on The Carroll News, and I am forever grateful that Dance Ensemble allows me to cultivate my obsession with dance. I learned a lot about interviewing and writing magazine profiles at John Carroll Magazine, and my classes – well, I might have learned a thing or two there. But I will never, ever, ever again put myself in the situation where my to-do list become more important than my friends, my family, my sanity, my happiness and my overall well-being.
Your friends are still going to love you if you only take 15 credits, you will still get a job if you’re only involved in one or two things on campus, and if you don’t get an internship, it’s not the end of the world. So, as you take this summer to recuperate and come back refreshed and motivated to take on challenges and save the world, I urge you to realize that you can’t be everything to everyone, and that is more than okay.