Happy new year (and new semester)!
I haven't written anything here in a while, mostly due to keeping up with a hard class schedule and balancing several extra-curricular activities, in one of which I hold an office. I also needed to set aside time to socialize, exercise, take care of my apartment and of course, sleep. By the time winter break rolled around, I, like so many students, was absolutely exhausted and perfectly content to spend the entire vacation on the couch and do nothing.
Although classes don't start again until the 13th, I've already received emails about opportunities and responsibilities pertaining to some of my extra-curriculars and other involvements. Sorority recruitment begins in less than a week, campus publications need more writers and editors, and another involvement is sponsoring an essay contest. I've barely been home during this break and will be headed back to Indiana by the time this is published. My mind is not quite ready to go back to school life.
But when my mom caught wind of the essay contest, she encouraged me - on more than one occasion - to enter. I automatically rolled my eyes and groaned. I just finished a really hard semester with lots of papers and essays, I thought. Why on earth would I want to add one more, especially during a break? She was disappointed with me brushing this off. Hillel, who is sponsoring the contest, is a continuation of an activity that was a huge part of my life in high school. But with more demanding schoolwork and some leadership opportunities I wanted to take advantage of, other activities had to take a backseat. I didn't want anything to take a backseat, but I didn't want to be overwhelmed with conflicting events.
This brings me to the point of this post. Our conversation really got me thinking: why am I involved in the things I am? Is it to continue lifelong interests, such as music or Jewish life, or is it to help prepare me for a career? Where are my skills most needed? How much is too much, and what things are most important?
A school like IU has a club for almost everything, and if something you're interested in doesn't exist, you can start your own group. It's easy to go crazy and sign up for everything when you have so many interests. As a freshman, you're able to sit back and take part in everything without much effort - and you're living on campus, so meetings are usually close by. This is a great time to try out different groups to see which ones you like best. If you don't like something, that's OK. You shouldn't be involved in something because you feel you have to be or because it looks good on a resume. However, if something really stimulates your interests, stay involved! Even better: some clubs may combine interests!
But as a sophomore and beyond, you'll be given opportunities to take on leadership roles, join committees, etc. and simply be more involved. And you may be living off campus, which adds to the effort of getting to events. Some organizations have attendance requirements; with others, you can come and go as you please. It's at this point that some things require more time and other things start to fade.
A new semester/year is a great time to reevaluate and determine which activities and interests are most important to you. One or two of your activities should exist to help boost the skills you're learning in the classroom and prepare you for the professional world, but others should allow you to continue doing the things you love. I'm going to enter the essay contest because the topic provides an opportunity for such reflection (and it doesn't hurt that it doesn't have to be long, only about the length of this post!). You can't do everything, and you'll feel better when you're not spreading yourself thin.
For more articles about being involved on campus, check these out!