Drawing the Line Between Being Weak and Being Human

Soka is full of overachievers. And that’s by design. A school as small as Soka needs a bright, engaged student body, and admissions cultivate each incoming class with that in mind. As a result, Soka is filled with passionate, deeply involved people, and the school is gaining a reputation for the quality of its students. However, as someone who was identified as an overachiever in high school, I’ve learned that there is a downside to being passionate and involved. When we’re involved in big projects, the stress can obscure the reason you’re involved in the first place.

I believe a project is not worth taking on unless I can dive in head-first. In high school, my big project was getting the school newspaper elective off the ground. As the founding editor-in-chief, the burden rested largely on me to get things done. Since the paper was new and I was its main supporter, I wore every hat there is to wear on a student paper: I wrote anywhere from four to eight articles an issue. I stayed up late laying out the paper. I edited everything my staff submitted. Each task, in isolation, brings me joy. Journalism allows me to take out my most precious skills and parade them around.

Doing everything at once, however, is tiring. I ran that paper for three years. And there were times when I struggled under the weight of that responsibility. In addition to making sure the physical newspaper came out right, I had to teach my staff how to be journalists—everything from writing to interviewing to ethics. And I had to problem-solve constantly. What to do when an article falls through at the last minute? Or when a staffer can’t get an interview with a key subject? Or when I receive an article and discover it’s been plagiarized? There were times during those three years when tiredness would turn to weariness. I love journalism, but after so many missed deadlines and trivial complaints, weariness turns to being burnt out. One thing I struggled with was reconciling my feeling of being fed up — I actually contemplated quitting — with the knowledge that journalism is my passion.

It’s hard to love something that drains you, but it’s even harder to admit it drains you in the first place. Because isn’t that a sign of weakness? Of infidelity to your cause, even? I wanted to quit, at times, but I also felt guilty for feeling that way.

After wrestling with these doubts, I’ve made an important realization: Love is tiring. Love takes time, effort, and patience. Loving something doesn’t make devoting yourself to it easy. Coming to terms with this has taught me that contemplating quitting and losing my passion are not the same thing. I’m human. I’m allowed to get tired. So are you—and that’s okay. Now, with that in mind, go forth and overachieve!