A few weeks ago, JHU_Alberto (Can we get someone on making that JHU_Pepe?) wrote a fantastic blog for all of the sleep-deprived over-achievers out there (aka Hopkins students) who passionately throw themselves into every extra-curricular at the student activities fair. This struck a chord with me, because I’ve very much been that person since I came to Hopkins. As I’ve assuredly mentioned before, I was so obsessed with finding my niche, the ~perfect extra-curricular, ~ that I signed up for every email list, showed up at every audition, and attended every interest meeting. Then, just as Alberto advises, I prioritized and subsequently narrowed down my options. I felt smart, savvy, and just the right amount of busy.
Then my spring semester of freshmen year hit, and with it came Alpha Phi and the Barnstormers’ musical. I knew almost immediately that my perceived savvy from last year just wasn’t going to cut it anymore – something had to go. It sucked to quit anything, especially something I’d worked so hard to be a part of, and I vowed to never put myself in that situation again. Yet here I am again, waist-deep in sophomore spring, feeling those little flutters of panic in my stomach. With a new B’more episode to produce, a Little to find, an Open Mic Night to plan, and an off-campus show to memorize, I am the busiest I’ve ever been at Hopkins, and not always in the good way. So today I’m going to zoom in on Alberto’s third piece of advice – knowing your limits – and, of course, the messy part that comes after realizing maybe you just can’t do it all.
Do Give Your Schedule A Trial Run. Before committing to those six clubs/organizations, try out your week. Can you actually handle four weeknight meetings and early morning weekend practices? By the end of those seven days, you’ll know whether that schedule is something you can sustain for the rest of the semester.
Don’t Assume Multiple Leadership Roles. Membership is one thing; leadership is another. In most extra-curriculars, the time commitment associated with a leadership position is significantly more intense than that of a member. Be mindful of this when deciding whether to run or apply for leadership roles across various organizations. My involvement on the executive board has catapulted the Barnstormers to the top of my priority list, if only because it’s what takes up the majority of my time. My fellow board members rely heavily on my ability to put the Barnstormers before anything else, which often shoves my other commitments onto the backburner. If I had anything close to a leadership position in another organization, I’d probably lose my mind.
Do Prioritize. It’s a lot simpler than deciding how to allot your time. Regardless of what you do outside of school, what you do in school will always be more important – never forget that you’re at Hopkins to be a student above all else. If your extra-curriculars are getting in the way of your grades, health, or overall happiness, then it’s time to make a cut.
Do Be Honest ASAP. So, you’ve decided to narrow down your involvement. This is the toughest part of realizing that you can’t do it all, because you’re always going to feel like you’re letting someone down. The key is to be honest about how you’re feeling as soon as possible. If you’re truly over-extended, pull yourself off of a project or event way before the deadline, so that the relief you feel isn’t at the cost of your co-member’s day. Be straightforward and upfront – if you know that you can’t give the job all or the time and energy it deserves, let your team know. Not only will you look like a responsible adult who knows your own limits, but you’ll also avoid burning bridges.
Most importantly, give yourself a break. I felt like the scum under someone’s shoe when I quit something I’d committed to, but I know that I’m so much better off (read: saner) now than I would have been if I’d tried to stick it out. So think happy thoughts, take a deep breath, and get on board with not doing it all. Your sleep habits, and your social life, will thank you for it.