Overachieving one’s way to college stress

Overachieving leads to loss of self.…

Does that even make sense?

When I think back to my senior year of high school, I remember how incredibly packed and hectic my daily schedule seemed to be. From studying for AP exams to squeezing in time to clean my room, my life was one giant to-do list. I was constantly exhausted. To say the least, I was an overachiever, and I wanted out. I anxiously waited for those lazy college days where classes didn’t start until noon and teachers didn’t breathe down my back about one unexcused absence from class.

So I came to Tech my freshmen year with the expectation that I would try new things, particularly a more laid-back version of myself. I was determined not to repeat the same mistakes I made in high school. Overachieving, while it helped me get into college, was something I wanted to take a break from.

I failed. Miserably.

Like most college students, I was most interested in fitting in, making friends and meeting new people. So naturally I joined the Technique… and the Women’s Recruitment Team, Connect with Tech, the Student Center Homecoming Committee and countless other organizations. Needless to say, one thing led to another, and I was well over my head in extracurricular activities.

In some strange way, I enjoyed being busy. I enjoyed running around from class to meeting to group project to dinner to homework to bed. I felt as if I were becoming more efficient with my time management skills and spent less time stalking friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, the Facebook stalking continued, but my time management skills improved.

My roommates and friends always wondered what I was up to or where I was off to next. “When do you have time to breathe?” they asked. “Do you ever sleep?” I was in college, I didn’t need to sleep. Every once in a while I would surface for a breath of fresh air, but never did I actually have time to stop and smell the roses. I was fitting 36-hour schedules into 24-hour days. I was convinced that this is the way it was supposed to be.

It wasn’t until my second year that all these activities started taking a heavier toll than just bad grades and lack of sleep. While catching up with a friend of mine, I asked the basic question of how life was treating her. “Stressfully,” she said. “I’m always busy. Busy with things I have no passion for.” This seemed like an oddly deep thing to say while waiting for the Stinger, but it stuck in my mind. It made me reevaluate the way I was spending my time.

The only thing I ever really knew how to do was overachieve. I was good at juggling various activities and at time management, but in my quest to become involved and try new things, I lost sight of some of the simpler things in life. If my mother were reading this, she would be doing one of those I-told-you-so dances, and she wouldn’t be entirely wrong to do so.

As a solution to my problem, I had to cut back on the activities I was not passionate about. Overachieving, I realized, did not depend on the number of organizations I was involved with, but the time I spent trying to make each organization better. And that kind of motivation was a result of passion.

Although it took me a few years to realize, the time I’ve spent since I simplified my life has changed tremendously. Never did I catch myself scheduling time to talk to a best friend or to have dinner with roommates. I wasn’t constantly rescheduling my life to fit everything in. I realized, sooner rather than latter, that it was those spontaneous midnight excursions to Taco Bell that kept me sane and made me realize how and with whom I liked to spend my time.

Before joining any organization or agreeing to take on any role, I’ve begun to ask myself a few simple questions: Why am I doing this? Is this how I want to spend my time? Am I willing to put in enough time to make this organization better? If I am unable to answer any of these questions, I take it as a sign to step back and reevaluate my time and priorities.

College is just one more obstacle standing in the way of reality and true adulthood. While we are all here to get an education and become more involved, we shouldn’t lose sight of ourselves. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be caught up in the whirlwind of college opportunities and forget why we are here in the first place.