Busy, busy, busy. Every year, I seem to commit to more and more things, and I never seem to learn. This isn’t just a me thing, either. When I ask friends how they’re doing, 50% of the time their response is “busy.”
“How are you?”
What does that mean, exactly? Good? Bad? In between? Are you so occupied with events and meetings, work and school, clubs and rehearsals, that you don’t even know how you’re doing? You don’t even have the chance to step back and ruminate for half a second?
Don’t get me wrong – commitments are great. Extracurricular activities are some of the best ways to get involved on a college campus. Rigorous schedules can help you on the path to heightened responsibility. Also, there are those times in life (especially college life) when you just gotta bite the proverbial bullet and get through a difficult, crazily-scheduled week or two. It happens. That kind of frenzied rush of things all happening at once. Midterms, big papers, fun friend outing, topped off with 5 hours of shut eye if you're lucky.
This schedule from Hell pops up in everybody's life at least once every few months, but in college it seems so much more prevalent.
I asked a few of my friends what their take was on the busyness of your average college student.
"Mainly, I don't want to miss out on stuff."
"Over-committing was a huge problem my freshman year, it kept me distracted so I wouldn't feel homesick."
"We're just juicing our youth."
From this conversation with my pals, it seemed to me that the temptation of overcommitting is rooted in some bigger fears.
FOMO ("Fear Of Missing Out") is frequently joked about, but as the immediacy of social media progresses, I'm beginning to see that this is a real fear for young folks. Lately, just being alone and at peace is not fun enough. If you see an exciting event on a friend's SnapChat story, you'll probably feel left out. You feel like you're missing something, like you're not being what a college student should be -- engaged, constantly at 100% energy level, and always surrounded by friends.
Then, there's the fear of thinking. Often for me, being still and quiet is relaxing, refreshing, and helps me recharge my energy for human interaction. But sometimes, it has the exact opposite effect. When my friend mentioned over-committing as a distraction tactic, it felt like I'd gotten punched in the gut. She was so right. When you have so many activities to participate in, you are less likely to have enough time to really pay attention to how you're feeling. You can't settle down and journal for twenty minutes when you have class, then work, then a meeting, then a group project, writing session, class, rehearsal, coffee date, class, audition, football game, choir, band practice, dinner, homework, sleep. For some, busyness is a coping mechanism. Because, why think when you can go, go, go?
This last one made me laugh. "Juicing our youth." It has a whole lot of truth to it. We youngsters want to live vividly, take every opportunity there is to develop as people, and stuff our lives full of interesting things to do. We want to jump into adventures and experience hanging by a thread, because we know that, one day, the unique ability to just drop everything and go for it will be stunted. The clock is ticking, and as college students we are acutely aware of just how much time we have left to write for the school newspaper, star in a school play, or volunteer at a local charity event.
Okay, so these things individually are not bad, but you already know that. This blog post isn't meant to discourage joining groups -- far from it, actually. As a matter of fact, when you're picky about what activities you choose to participate in, there's a greater chance you actually care about that activity, and you can dedicate more of your time to it when you're not also involved in 20+ other commitments.
Aaaaaand, again, I am the poster child for over-commitment -- so I get it. I understand that it's hard enough to say no to something you don't particularly care about, much less to something you care deeply about. But, please, for your own sanity and well-being, take your time seriously. Value it. Try not to commit to things just because you'll be missing out if you don't, or you'll have to actually sit and think about how you're feeling if you're not busy, or because you're afraid that you're running out of unique opportunities.
Hope you have an awesome day, and that you take some time to relax in the near future :)