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In this new school year, I’ve found myself much more social and busy. Granted, all I wanted last year was to feel more involved and to have greater purpose. However, I’m starting to wonder whether or not jumping full force into social life after a year off is too much of a drastic change. 

I am someone who loves to be fully booked. I love the feeling that I’m playing multiple necessary roles and that people really need me. I’m also super passionate about a lot of different things. For these reasons, I absolutely adore saying “yes.” My strong affinity for this word has opened up some really cool life experiences. That being said, I occasionally make my life far harder than it has to be. I’m always stressed and under pressure. While it’s healthy to have a few days in a bind, stress on the daily isn’t great. My mom likes to describe my issue as a matter of priority. She suggests that the issue is not with saying yes, but rather emphasizing extracurriculars with the same tenacity as academics. 

My stress levels are exacerbated by the stark shift from extremely limited activity beyond school to a post-Covid college environment. Students everywhere seem to have an untamed nature about them now. The expectation has become socialization over schoolwork. Going from nothing to everything all at once has not only emphasized social nervousness but has made it hard for me to keep up with homework. Maybe I need to realize that it’s okay to say no.

A lot of college should be about saying yes. Being away from home for the first time, students should try to get involved and create an essentially new life for themselves. That new life should not be an all work or all play schedule. It’s important to find a balance, and balance cannot occur without the occasional no. Passions can eventually turn into dreadful obligations if left unlimited. 

Don’t overextend yourself. Do what makes you happy, but understand that you cannot possibly do everything. Life is about choices and priorities. Mental health and stability should always come first. 

Lilly Doninger is a member of the class of 2024 at William & Mary from Louisville, Kentucky. She hopes to major in International Relations. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, watching movies, and journaling. Lilly also writes weekly for her personal blog, Ridiculous but Respectable.
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