“I’m going to a meeting. And then another one after that.”
“Didn’t you just have a meeting?”
“Yeah, but I have more. And another one tomorrow.”
This is kind of how it goes for me. Being a member of four organizations, it’s not uncommon for me to have three meetings in a week. One night I even had three meetings in a row. At a school like Emerson, sometimes it’s hard to say no and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the stress that your organizations are adding to your already busy workload. Here are a few tips from someone who knows this stress firsthand.
If you don’t already have a way of organizing all of the work you do, that’s your first step. Since college is so busy, it’s best to have a place to keep everything that you need to do in one spot so that you know all of your obligations. It might be easier to rank assignments and meetings in order of priority or due date so that you know what to do first. I usually highlight all of my assignments based on class or organization so I can quickly spot what I need to have completed for everything I’m involved in. If there’s a lot of things you have to do, it’s only going to be worse if you don’t hand things in or forget deadlines.
If you find that you’re too stressed, consider doing less next semester or maybe dropping a club that same semester if you can. There are certain clubs, like magazines, where it’s harder to do that mid-semester because you’re on the staff. But if it’s a club where the only requirement is to go to meetings, it might be beneficial to take a few weeks off to get a hold of things or even drop the club entirely. You can always rejoin next semester if you think the workload will be lighter.
Focus on Yourself
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to all of the activities that your peers are involved in. It’s easy to go on Facebook and see the films your friends have worked on or the articles your classmates have written and feel you’re not doing enough. I know I’ve often looked at classmates who are more involved than me and had the thought that I’m not doing enough, even when sometimes I’m way over my head. Having a heavy workload forces you to learn a lot about yourself, about what you can and cannot handle. Focus on what you can handle and not what everyone else is doing. That person in your class who’s in seven different organizations may look like they’re doing okay, but they probably barely have time to breathe, and if you can’t handle that (because honestly who can?) it’s okay to take a step back and reevaluate what you’re involved in.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Don’t be afraid to say no. Emerson students are especially bad at this because everyone around us is always doing so many amazing things. It’s easy to feel like you’re underachieving if you’re not in seven different organizations. Every person is different and you know what you can handle. If your workload is too much, don’t feel pressured to stretch yourself too thin. It’s okay to miss a meeting or two every once in a while if you’re feeling too stressed. People will be understanding as long as you’re responsible about it.
Take Time to Destress
If it’s 1 a.m. and you’re in between writing a paper, reading for a class and trying to prepare for meetings and classes the next day, maybe take a deep breath and take a minute to yourself. Take a long shower or watch an episode of a TV show to give yourself time to relax and decompress. The paper will eventually get done, but you probably won’t be successful if you’re too stressed or tired. Remember that your health is your first priority.
Sometimes it seems like attending an arts school pressures students to think that if they’re not doing well in all their classes as well as taking on multiple organizations, then they’re not getting the most out of their college experience. I have friends who go to more traditional schools and they may take more classes that have a larger workload, but I feel like the pressure to be involved is a lot less. It’s okay to not be involved in 101 things; just do what makes you happy and enjoy your college experience the way you want to.
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