The first piece of advice that almost every college freshman receives is: “Don’t spread yourself too thin.” I don’t think any student, myself included, took this metaphorical wisdom too seriously.
Why would we? As students at one of the best public universities in the country, we got ourselves to where we are today by “spreading ourselves too thin.” We were captains of our sports teams, presidents of our honor societies, officers in our student governments and still the valedictorians and salutatorians of our classes.
We thrived when we supposedly “spread ourselves too thin.” Except the saying seemed to become more true in college – we had to get jobs to support our broke lifestyles, our class workloads became substantially heavier, and being in leadership positions in organizations you care about seemed to actually take time and commitment. The feeling of spreading yourself too thin suddenly became a real one, and it was one that brought feelings of stress, anxiety and inadequacy with it.
I have recently learned, however, that if you spread yourself to the point right before being too thin, it actually can be quite good for you.
I have become extremely busy this semester. Busy to the point where I feel like I am literally doing things from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep. While it has been an adjustment, and is often times stressful, it has taught me a lot of things and has overall made me a more successful, driven person.
While that is especially hard to type as I sit in Library West, a day after Spring Break, planning each day of the next week and a half and feeling as if there aren’t enough seconds in the day to get it all done… it is still the truth. Not having an abundance of free time has changed my outlook on life and myself for the better.
Maybe it’s all part of my subconscious need to become (what I like to call) a “real” person this semester, but something in me changed on January 8th, 2018 when I returned to the University of Florida. I decided that it wasn’t enough to do the bare minimum in my classes in order to just get a passing grade. I decided that “not having enough time” wasn’t a valid excuse for not immersing myself in the things I loved. And I decided that it was time to stop telling myself that I couldn’t do it all out of fear of proving myself right.
So I did it.
I decided to look my aspirations – that I had once been too terrified to face directly – in the eye. It wasn’t enough to slowly take them on one at a time because I had already wasted too much time. Today was the day that I was going to spread myself just thin enough.
Taking more than 12 credits in a semester for the first time? Check. Getting a job so I could stop asking my parents for money? Done. Applying for two leadership positions I had only dreamt of doing, being offered the positions and accepting both (even though I was unsure if I could balance them)? Doing it. Cutting the bullshit, making working out and eating right a part of my everyday routine? Bring it on.
Something funny started to happen when I told myself that I could do it all – I actually started to do it all. Where I used to tell myself I didn’t have time to do go the gym, I realized I could fit in a workout almost every single day if I woke up just an hour earlier. Even though I was petrified of failing at all my new positions, I pushed through the fear and found that I was actually pretty good at them.
So yes, I now have much less free time in my life, but it has changed me for the better.
I no longer choose not to attempt something I want to attempt because I think I won’t be able to do it. I wake up each day and feel as if I am living my life with purpose because I am. I know now that if there is anything I want in life, I can make the time for it. The little bit of free time I now have means so much more to me because I know that I will spend it with those I care about in a meaningful way that makes all of the busy days seem worth it.
So disregard that old advice (to an extent). Spread yourself just thin enough, and the results might just surprise you.