What I Learned From Constantly Overbooking my Schedule

Go, go, go!” has been my approach to life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I was always involved in as many sports, academic competitions, and music lessons as possible. As amazing as it was, balancing everything became harder as I became older and all of my commitments demanded more and more from me. In a society that normalizes overworking and ultra efficiency we forget we are only human.   

 

yawning cat with tongue Serena Koi

| quality, not quantity |  

While it has always been extremely tempting to become involved in absolutely everything, and while this was do-able at a young age, it is not sustainable and will not lead to success in your adult life. I learned this the hard way on several occasions. After all, there isn't much of a point in doing as much as possible if you are not able to become excellent at anything. This is something I wish my parents would have taught me early on. I have often struggled with the thought that I am not amazing at one thing and rather only acceptable at a wide variety of things. Everyone seems to have their "thing" and I have always felt like I did not. Now I am able to realize that you can find what you are passionate about in your adult life, try to put your past behind you, and become excellent at what you do. 

| burnout is real |

I had heard the horror stories: college students sinking into slumps, overwhelmed with seemingly never-ending projects. I never thought I would experience it and assumed that drive was all a person could ever need. So, it came to me as a great surprise that I could not simply plow my way through everything with sheer willpower. There was certainly a limit and I tended to exceed the limit quite often. This realization changed my perception of everything and I decided that willpower was not a reliable source of energy.

| there won’t be enough time to relax, or even sleep |

Sleep is much more important than we tend to realize, and without sleep it will be nearly impossible to have cheerful, successful days. I had to learn this time and time again. For example, during my freshman year on campus (the first half of it, before the pandemic cut it short), I was absolutely ecstatic about all the opportunities there was! It felt great to finally be somewhat independent and be able to make my own decisions. I wanted to sign up for every class and every club! I felt like a toddler in a candy store. Well…after the first month or two, I was absolutely exhausted. I had tried so many different things (hey, I didn’t know what I would like!) and didn’t feel like I had accomplished much of anything. In that blur of a month, I had attended the first general meetings of every club I found interesting at “Dawg Daze,” had reached out to a research lab, and had even participated in rowing practices for weeks on end (most of these things were not for me, which was one helpful takeaway from those experiences). I realized that it is much better to be involved in several things that you are really passionate about as opposed to many things that you are only slightly passionate about. Yes, this should seem obvious, but it took me a while to figure college out.

| less IS more |

Throughout my life, I have always been so busy that I never had time to sit around for even a moment (throwing shoes on in the car, shoving a bite of food down here and there, etcetera). It took me nineteen years to realize…hey, I don’t have to live like this and I don’t want to. Now I find myself valuing “spare” time to read a book, call a friend, and even run more. Life is more enjoyable and I don't feel like I have to drag myself out of bed every day and go into autopilot for the rest of the week. 

| other people are not always as busy as they look on social media |

Over the past few decades, the United States, along with many other countries, have started glorifying “grind” culture and promoting “time optimization” because time = money. After all, maximum productivity is always the answer, right? Nope. The faster you are able to "pump out" work, the more likely it is that your work will not be of the highest quality and the more difficult it will be to produce exceptional work. In the modern world, it almost seems like a competition of “who can sleep the least," and this is a toxic mindset that is easy to fall into. When you see instagram influencers and lifestyle bloggers waking up at the crack of dawn and accomplishing an admirable amount of tasks, it is easy to forget that you are not seeing the whole picture. The insane level of productivity that most of us are constantly aiming for is unattainable and, at times, an illusion. It is important to ground yourself and recognize that you are doing amazing and your best. You’re not in competition with anyone but yourself. <3

Moral of the story: take care of yourself AND your mental health!