"Do you want to have an officer position for our club?"
"Can you pick up these extra shifts?"
Sign me up!
"Do you want to take this internship in a different city?"
Of course, why not?
Do these types of situations sound familiar? Then congratulations, you're just like me. The ambitious, the go-getter, and the over-achiever, but beneath the surface, the overbooked, the scatter-brained, and the stretched thin.
Recently, I've had to fold on previously-committed opportunities. Upon getting asked to do these amazing things, I am honored and excited to begin. But then once they approach fruition in my calendar, I realize that there's no way for me to realistically follow-through on them, all things considered.
The internship scenario is a true story. I was granted the opportunity to have a 10-15 hour a week, unpaid internship course in St. Petersberg, Florida, which is about a 50-minute drive across a bridge from my university in Tampa, Florida. I would be doing amazing work, such as surveying different departments in organizations to gather information on the "resiliency" of these sectors against climate change here in the Tampa Bay area.
However, it would be unpaid, far, and frequent, considering I would be spending at least 10 hours a week doing this work. With everything else I was already involved in (coursework, two on-campus jobs, officer positions, club meetings, programs), I wouldn't have reaped the full benefits of it and would have found myself sleep-deprived and struggling.
I realized no one is going to die if I don't take every single opportunity thrown my way. Saying no the course during add-drop week - when I had committed the past spring semester - was stressful and scary in and of itself, but I know that I saved myself a lot of distress. I have given myself time to keep to a consistent workout regime everyday and evenings to hang out with my flatmates. I have given myself the confidence and ability to "say no."
It is tempting to say yes to everything because as individuals we want to be able to (and say that we can) do it all. To a degree, we want to be more productive and more interesting than our counterparts. But I want us to ask ourselves this question: will this REALLY benefit me and who I am as a person in the long run, or will it just add to more unreasonable responsibilities and obligations? Learning how to say no earlier on in life will allow us to more definitively realize the things we do and do not want to actively pursue, and we'll discover our more concrete interests and aspirations. In the end, this makes the things we DO choose to commit to more valuable and meaningful in the long run.
Stay busy, remain engaged, be inspired - but be smart about it.