When I was in college, I filled up my schedule with as many activities as I could. I was a full-time student all seven semesters, part of two fraternities (one for three years, one for one year), and had several jobs and extracurricular activities.
I handled it all by dropping a few things each semester. I took a break from one of my jobs every fall, only worked two days a week at another, strategized my allowed absences from work and classes throughout the semester, took a leave of absence in one of my fraternities for a semester, and made a weekly schedule so I wouldn’t forget anything.
Why did I put myself though all that instead of just chilling and only being a student with one job?
I loved everything I was part of. I loved playing in the bands at school, having fun with kids at the daycare and babysitting, being able to have great talks with alumni at the call center, writing an article each week, and talking to fraternity brothers and sisters about all the stresses of being busy.
I also made sure everything I did was worth my while. Working at the daycare and writing for the school newspaper helped me with my ultimate career goal: editing children’s books. Being part of the bands helped me further develop my playing skills on saxophone and bagpipes. Working at the call center helped me develop a feel for a more professional job. The fraternities helped me give back to the community by involving me in community service projects.
I still got overwhelmed several times over the years, but they simply allowed me to reevaluate what was truly important and what I could drop. I actually wrote an article about the burdens of having a busy schedule. You can read it here.
After graduating in December, I worked full time at a daycare. I felt like I had been busy enough for long enough and, though the daycare kept me busy, I was far less busy than my student life. For seven months, that was the only thing I focused on.
In July, I realized I wanted to start playing my saxophone again. The church my parents attended needed a saxophone for their orchestra and I joined in.
After that, I realized I wanted to do more. I started meeting some friends from college every Thursday night to catch up. I was making every Wednesday night practice for the church and Sunday service. I was driving eighty miles up and down the interstate three times a week and I loved it.
I changed jobs from the daycare to a part time waitress in September. Now what was I going to do with my time?
In January, the editor from the school newspaper asked if I wanted to write for the Odyssey. I said yes without a second thought.
I also have been playing more video games, binge watch several TV shows on Hulu and Netflix, and plan day trips I hope to go on someday.
I miss being busy because I liked the adrenaline it came with and I felt like I was doing more with my life.
Then I remember the nights where I stare at my schedule wishing for a break or an escape. I remember the anxiety attacks I had when not everything fit on my schedule. I remember the people who were upset that I wasn’t spending enough time with them.
Maybe one day I will find a nice balance between being too busy and not being busy enough.
Maybe one day.