The Importance of Creating Your Own Busyness

In elementary school, my parents organized playdates for me and put me in afterschool activities. In middle school, I arranged my own “playdates,” tried out for sports teams and grappled with the growing amount of homework assigned. In high school, it was mandatory for students to participate in a sport every season, schoolwork consumed most of my time, and when I had spare time, I would hang out with my friends. College, however, provided me with a surprisingly open schedule. My first year, I took five classes and still had an excess of free time. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Sports were no longer required, clubs weren’t as easily accessible, and friendships were harder to come by. In short, I was coming to terms with the notion that I had to create my own schedule from scratch, I had to create my own “busyness.”

I realized that I missed having scheduled activities and things to look forward to when I had what I thought was the ideal schedule: jam-packed with an abundance of spare time. But I had nothing to do with this spare time and so I felt unfulfilled. I was so accustomed to things being scheduled for me, either through my school or through my parents, that I wasn’t quite sure how to go about creating an extracurricular schedule of sorts. It was intimidating to be alone in a big university after graduating with a class of just under sixty girls. When I started spending too much time alone, focusing on just my classes, I felt acutely aware that I was missing something.

Photo Credit: We Heart It

It was during my second semester of college that I decided to join my first club, Her Campus. I found out about this club through my orientation leader, Zoe, who later adopted many new labels: best friend, sister, mother in times of need, and guidance counselor. It took a mentor of sorts to push me in the path I knew I needed to be down but was too afraid of not being good enough or accepted. However, what I came to learn in the process was that everyone starts out brand new in college and people are generally nicer than you may assume. Of course, this depends greatly on what you are pursuing but as a rule of thumb, if you want to do something new, do it and put 110% of your effort into it.

After joining my first club, I was presented with the opportunity to apply to work as a research assistant in a psychology lab. Again, I was nervous that I could never live up to the responsibilities expected of a research assistant since I had never done anything like it before. However, my TA, who invited me to apply and who would later become my mentor and friend, told me that I had to put my foot in the door at some point if I wanted to pursue work in the field of psychology. She reminded me that it was okay to be inexperienced because I was new to the field and that I would learn a lot along the way. So, I applied and was accepted to work as a research assistant. Since then I have worked in three different psychology labs, none of which would have been possible if I didn’t step outside of my comfort zone.

These two experiences created the foundation of my extracurricular schedule that I have now. Currently, I work at two psychology labs as a research assistant, I write and edit for Her Campus, I am a member of the Undergraduate Psychology Association, and I recently picked up a part-time job. I had to create all of these opportunities for myself and rely on the support of my mentors when I was unsure of what to do. After that initial intimidating step, it became easier to build my schedule and fill up all of that free time with meaningful work and responsibilities. Staying busy has helped me balance my school work, work-work, and friendships because I have a reliable schedule every week and can plan my time accordingly. It was harder for me to plan things around an empty schedule because I rarely had the motivation to pursue other interests when I wasn’t working towards anything fulfilling.

 

Creating a busy yet manageable schedule for yourself can, in turn, create motivation and leave you feeling fulfilled after a long day’s work. It will also allow you to value whatever free time you get and make the most of that time off.

 

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