"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I've always been an overachiever... everything I've been tasked with has to be done ten times better/faster than is expected of me. With high school, for example, instead of graduating in four years, I graduated in three and had two years of college under my belt. Now with college, I'm trying to speed along to get done with my BA before law school. (And I'll probably be tempted to speed along with law school, as well.)
Having an education and building a foundation for your future career or graduate school also means being well-rounded. This puts on the pressure of being in a ton of student organizations, having a social life, having time to yourself, working, and still being able to succeed in your classes. I went into this upcoming semester with a heavy load... I would be taking 18 credit hours, I would be President of Wishmakers on Campus (and then later found out that I would have to take over as President of another huge organization on campus), I would be apart of a Children's Miracle Network Danceathon, I would be working, I would be studying for the LSAT, I would be rushing to be in a sorority, and I would have to try to find time to relax and actually be a human. Every time I thought of the work load I would have for the upcoming semester, I would go numb.
How was I supposed to manage all of this without crashing and burning? I'm at my university for my education, so it's not like I would put school on the back burner. Work is still important since it brings in money, and I like the people I work with, so I wouldn't want to give that up. The LSAT is coming up in less than a year, and it's the ultimate determining factor in whether or not I get into the law school I want with great scholarships. So, that leaves the organizations. I'm the type of person who hates breaking a commitment. It's always hard for me to juggle caring for myself or caring for others. I felt like if I left any of these organizations that I had committed to, I would be letting them down and they would hate me, but also, I would probably hate myself if I failed any of these classes and/or had a mental breakdown from stress.
This entire summer was full of trying to plan out how I was going to juggle all of this. And while trying to figure it all out, I was also taking 9 credit hours to try to get my Latin courses out of the way. Then, a week or so ago, a bomb was dropped on me. Because of one of my organizations, I would be moving into my dorm in a month, and I would have to take on extra responsibility. Moving back in a month also meant that my last Latin class would end 3 days before I had to pick up and leave. I would be going without any sort of summer break. I went numb when I found this out. I remember going into my mom's bedroom and just falling to the floor because everything felt too heavy. I knew I had to drop something. It wouldn't be Wishmakers on Campus because that organization is my baby. It wouldn't be any of my classes, of course. It wouldn't be the danceathon because I care deeply about the Children's Miracle Network and the hospital we would be raising money for. It couldn't be this organization because they had already lost one member, so I would just be setting them up for failure. So, my decision was to drop sorority recruitment, even though it was something that I was extremely excited for, and I also dropped the last Latin class and would just take it in the Fall instead of another class I needed.
I thought this setup would be better for me. After all, I had one less organization to worry about, and I'd have a month to just relax and work before classes started. But then, every time someone would bring up the organization that was causing me the most stress, I would get defensive, irritable, and my overall mood changed. I felt like I couldn't change this, though. If I left the organization, I'd be dropping something that needed me, I'd be breaking a commitment, and I'd feel like a failure. So, I was set in the mindset that I was going to stick with it.
I noticed something, though, every time I thought about this organization, it felt like my world was about to crash around me, even though I had dropped two things that were important to me. I didn't know how I would be able to put so much dedication into this organization and still pass all of my classes, even if I dropped the other two organizations that I cared deeply for. Every time I would talk to a family member or friend, they would ask me "Is it even worth it?" and ultimately, my answer was no, but I had made a commitment. I couldn't just go back on that oath, could I? But what is an oath worth when you feel like a broken human being whenever you think about it? I had a gut feeling that if I stayed in this organization, I would get a failing grade on a test and then have to leave them high and dry in the middle of the semester. So, I decided to talk to my mom about it. Once I spoke with her it was a pretty easy decision. Keeping my GPA up and stopping myself from going insane heavily outweighed just wanting to keep a commitment. So, I sent an email of resignation to this organization. I felt like such a bad person afterwards, but it was what I had to do to make sure school and my own mental wellbeing would be my number one priorities.
My point for this blog post isn't to tell you to quit things, but also, you should know that if you do have to step back from something, that's okay. After stopping this organization, I also decided to remain withdrawn from my last Latin class so I could relax before school started up, and this decision killed me because it would put me two credit hours shy of being a senior in the spring semester, but it's what I had to do to keep myself sane.
As an overachiever, it can be hard to step back and slow down in life, but sometimes it's what you have to do. Remind yourself that you are human. You will go through struggles and setbacks, and if you disappoint someone within those setbacks, that's okay. You can't please everyone in life, but make sure to focus on who you are and what you need. After all, if you spread yourself too thin, you will ultimately disappoint those people anyway. It's better to step back before you get too deep into something.
So, keep your head up and do what you need to do.