One of the many great advantages to attending small, liberal arts colleges is that there are endless opportunities to get involved. At bigger schools, where the campus is much more spread out and the student population is so much larger, it can be difficult to make connections with teachers and peers. At LMU, I’m very fortunate to have small classes taught by professors that know my name and can account for my reliability. And, as you can tell from several of my topic posts and from my About Me, I’m involved in quite a few student activities. When I graduate, I’ll probably be able to say I did everything short of Greek life and sports, and that’s mostly because I had to say no to at least a few things! (And because I’m terrible at sports. Ever seen me play sand volleyball outside the residence halls? Exactly.)
While I did have to personally apply for some positions, such as the Recruitment and Interactive Leadership Students (RAILS) and the Honors Scholars Program, the majority of the student groups I’m involved in came to me themselves to ask if I would be interested in joining. I was nominated for the Lincoln Ambassadors by one of my professors. The Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) recruited me to be their praise and worship leader three days before their first official meeting. The Director of Social Networking constantly invites me to help her with any web and video projects she comes up with. And the Director of Residence Life himself asked me to replace one of his graduating seniors as a resident assistant (RA), even knowing he would have to accommodate my busy schedule in order to train me. Not to mention word of my singing ability frequently gets around, leading to opportunities with the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, Railsplitter sporting events, and community appearances.
Although it is very nice and humbling to be considered for so many things, I often have a hard time admitting that I can’t do everything. I love working and staying busy, and I get bored almost immediately if I don’t have somewhere to go or something to do. But sometimes I get so caught up in everything that I forget to breathe for a moment or even stop to eat dinner! I also can’t stand the thought of disappointing people, so a lot of times I end up staying involved in a project mainly because I don’t want the people I’m working with to think badly of me. I’ll go out of my way to just to make time for a big project, just so I can make others happy, when all I really want to do is go back to my room and take a nap. My intention is always to create a fine balance of all of my commitments and lower my stress level, but really all that does is stress me out even more. For a while, I tried to just work around the stress, and I kept to myself whenever I felt myself getting overwhelmed by all the commotion around me. But here lately I’ve come to the realization that it is, in fact, okay to say, “No,” to a few things. No one will be disappointed in me, and it won’t mean that I’m a huge failure who couldn’t live up to what was expected of me. It just means that I know what my limits are and I know just how far I can stretch without breaking.
Even though it was hard, I made a big decision this semester that lightened my work load significantly. I stepped down from my position as praise and worship leader for BCM and passed the torch to one of our other members. It had gotten to the point that I knew I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I would pick out songs based on which ones I could pick up the quickest, not on the meaning behind the words. I’ll still be a part of the club as a whole, and I’ve offered to help with mission work and campus outreach. I just won’t have to prepare music and organize band practice times each week. And you know what? It’s okay! BCM still loves and accepts me, and they all agreed that I needed to do what I felt compelled to do, not necessarily what I thought others wanted me to do.
It’s important to get involved in as many things as you can. Just remember not to over-commit yourself. Doing your homework and hanging out with your friends are just as important as the commitments you make to your job or your clubs. Four years is a long enough time to find yourself and grow as a human being, but it’s also short enough to fly right by if you spend it all stressed out over things that you are in control of. If you feel yourself getting spread too thinly and need advice on how to handle it, feel free to email me or leave a comment below and I’ll help in any way I can! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog, too, for all the latest updates.