Why you should say ‘no’ to always saying ‘yes’

The word “no” may have been one of my firsts, but as I’ve gotten older it’s becoming harder and harder to say. Judging by the e-mail signatures of the majority of Loras students, I’m guessing that I’m not the only one that has trouble saying “no” to participating in the many fantastic organizations and other opportunities on campus.

As great as all of these things are, there is a point when “too much of a good thing” really comes into play.  I have been involved with a variety of fantastic and worthy clubs and organizations in the two years that I have been at Loras, and I don’t regret a second of time that I have dedicated to any of them. However, as time has gone on, I have begun taking more of a leadership role in these organizations. Because of this, I have been making more of a time commitment to each of them, and stretching myself thinner and thinner. As much as I wish there were 48 hours in a day so that I could give each of these clubs and organizations the time it deserves, it’s just not so, and an issue arises where I am not giving enough effort to each individual one. Things start slipping through the cracks. I forget to read an assignment here, forget to send an e-mail there, but cracks start showing in my foundation.

I can’t do everything, as much as I want to. I would love to be involved as a committee member on Dance Marathon, raise money for UNICEF, lead tours of campus, have fun with CAB, be a Breitbach Catholic Thinker and Leader, play intramural sports, work for the newspaper, earn money as a student worker, have an internship off-campus, and much, much more. I have participated in some of those things, but some of those are only things I wish I could do. It can be a hard pill to swallow that you can’t do something, as much as you want to, because you just don’t have the time. It’s so tempting to over-schedule ourselves for the sake of loving every activity option.

Being away from campus and all of my involvements last spring semester was difficult, but it was so amazing and definitely worth it. I had the opportunity to take a step back and have a unique college experience in Dublin. I was able to leave the United States for the first time, fulfill my dreams of traveling the world, and learn so much about myself. Besides all that, it was also an opportunity to take a breather from all of my extracurricular activities at Loras. By doing so, I had the ability to relax a bit, focus on my classes, and really live in the moment to enjoy myself. It was hard to adjust to the more laid-back schedule at first, but eventually I really learned to love it. I was able to have meals with friends and spend longer than half an hour eating. I looked out the window on my commute to school instead of spending the whole time sending e-mails and planning projects and meetings.

I really focused on my classwork, and enjoyed reading the novels thoroughly, instead of trying to frantically speed read to get to the next assignment. Instead of making absurdly long checklists in my agenda, I was able to forget it every few days and plan each day when I woke up, instead of weeks in advance. It was a much needed refresher, and made me realize that I had been on such a tight schedule during my past three semesters at college that I had been forgetting a really important part of college: to enjoy my time at Loras.

I’m not going to lie, being back at Loras and being enrolled in 17 credits, having an internship off campus and being executive editor of two campus publications has not been easy in the slightest. I feel like I’ve been a step behind for the past two weeks, and it hasn’t been easy to readjust to being with friends, professors and classmates who I haven’t seen for months. It’s been great to see everyone again and return to our beautiful (and extremely hilly) campus, but an adjustment nonetheless. And coming off a more relaxed semester has made the transition back into all of my organizations and classes especially hectic.

I did my best for the first week or two to just adjust to all of my prior commitments, even with  the added leadership roles that I’ve taken on. However, I quickly realized that I didn’t even have time to eat, let alone give enough attention to any one of these commitments. I was shortchanging all of them, as much as I wanted to give my undivided attention to all of them. Something had to change. I had to relearn how to say “no,” even though it was harder than I thought it would be to do so.

It was really, really hard for me. I’m a bit of a people pleaser (okay, a big one) and I hate feeling that I’ve let someone down or disappointed them. However, staying in the ridiculous amount of clubs and job positions that I was in was a disservice to everyone. So I took a deep breath, sat down with a few of these organizations, and said that as much as I loved working with them, this year I would not be able to commit to them.

I was expecting some sort of backlash, or disapproving gaze. However, my confession was met with nothing but an understanding nod, and “best of luck” with my other endeavors. Not one person got mad at me, or gave me reason to believe that I was singlehandedly destroying their organization.

It was not easy for me to drop some of these organizations. I had to say “no” to some really worthwhile causes, and some of my best friends. I had to remind myself though that yes, I did need time to eat, and yes, I need to sleep more than  five hours a night. I know I’m not the only one on this campus that has overcommitted themselves and so I’m addressing this to all of the fellow Duhawk overachievers out there: YES! You do deserve to enjoy the basic necessities of life, and you do deserve to enjoy the occasional opportunity to read a book for fun or watch Netflix or hang out with your roommates. As much as we’d like to think we are, we are not superheroes. It isn’t easy, but sometimes it truly is in everyone’s best interest to say “no,” and focus our attention on just a few commitments instead of 110.

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