I was once an overeager freshman, attending every on-campus event I could possibly fit into my schedule, joining my school newspaper within my first couple of weeks on campus and collecting flyers from every on-campus organization. When people I knew would complain about how busy they were in their classes, I would think, “oh please, I take classes too, I’m in numerous clubs and I’m fine.”
I had that mentality for a while, even going into my sophomore year. In some ways, I still have it. Getting involved is awesome, and I would encourage everyone to get involved on campus outside of their academics. However, though my freshman year self would’ve denied it again and again, there is a such thing as being too involved, and it’s important to realize that your health, both physical and mental, is a priority.
For a while, I applied for everything. I took on leadership positions. I wrote for multiple publications. I was interested in so many different things that I didn’t know how to choose between them, and I didn’t feel the need to.
But at a certain point, I could no longer remain dedicated to all of my involvements, at least to the degree I wanted to be. My homework assignments could be OK but not great. I could attend club meetings, but I wasn’t alert because I had probably only slept a couple hours the night before. On the surface, I was still holding up fine. My grades were fine. My other work was fine.
But I was settling, because in college, there are so many opportunities to do anything and be anything. Out of all the options out there, I chose to just be fine.
Fine isn’t good enough. On some nights, I slept for an hour. I ate a full meal maybe once per day. All of my energy came from coffee. It became normal for me, until one day, I realized it’s not normal to put so much pressure on yourself, to feel like you can never accomplish everything you have to do, to feel like your life is just a list of things to check off.
We tend to glamorize the ability to never sleep and still succeed. We find it admirable to be busy, always subtly competing with each other over who’s busier, who’s slept less, who needs more coffee to make it through the day without failing.
You know what we should actually strive for? Pursuing our passions, but still sleeping, eating, socializing and enjoying ourselves. Life is not a contest to see who’s more overwhelmed but still doing sorta OK.
Yeah, sure, I was fine. But I’d rather be fully awake, taking in my surroundings and having pleasant interactions with people that don’t involve constantly checking my calendar or email. I’d rather be healthy, valuing my own wellbeing over my resume. I’d rather be deeply involved, taking part in discussions, making an impact and truly dedicating myself to things I’m passionate about, rather than swimming along the surface of tons of different projects and involvements.
Yes, definitely get involved. But if it doesn’t add something to your life and makes you feel worse instead, then what’s the point?
Image via Breanna Coon