After a long day of work, classes and exec meetings, I found myself staring blankly at my computer screen. My eyes were barely open after the almost-all-nighter I pulled the night before.
The Northwestern tour guide application was in front of me. Did I really want to add another thing to my plate? My body was telling me no, but my heart was telling me yes. Melodramatic? Maybe. True? Definitely.
I remember when I visited NU for the first time five years ago. I loved it. Granted, it was snowing in the spring. But hey, it was Illinois. I remember seeing all the tour guides, full of energy and enthusiasm, their eyes getting bigger as they kept talking, clearly in love with the school. During the section of the tour when my tour guide talked about clubs, her face lit up with excitement.
In that moment, the glare of light on my laptop screen faded and my face appeared before me. Disheveled hair, tired eyes, no smile. My face was not lighting up one bit.
I tried telling myself it was just this week that was more stressful than the rest, and that if I was accepted to be a tour guide, I would definitely find time to do it. I mean, I make room for everything else in my jam-packed schedule already, right? What’s one more thing?
Then I realized there was no way I could add another thing to my list. So I told myself I was not going to apply. Fast-forward to a few hours later. The deadline passed and I was still alive, surprise! I did something I think more people at Northwestern should do. I said "no" to an extracurricular activity.
It is easy to forget that we are human, especially at a school like Northwestern. We define each day by how much we get done and what we have to do. But do you really have to do anything? No. Okay, you should go to class and eat food and stuff. But there should be limits on the extra things we do. As I found out through my tour guide application struggs, drawing that limit is easier than we think.
Here are some steps that have helped me:
Look at your frickin’ schedule. More than likely, your weeks are already filled with the wide range of activities that you forced yourself to join. If you have no time, don’t join something else. And don’t try to convince yourself that you can make time. Take my friend for example. He saw an empty space in his schedule, and instead of seeing it as a breather from his classes and clubs filled weeks, he proceeded to add another class. He sighed as he showed me his schedule. I sighed too, for the both of us. He started to laugh nervously. “Why did I do that?" he asked. Note: He eventually dropped the class, praise sweet baby Beysus.
Like my friend did, we should all ask ourselves "why?" But ask yourself before you join something. Why do I want to apply for this? What is my reason for joining this? How will I be able to do this? I think that to be really happy, and to stay sane, we need to have good answers to these questions. If we don’t, there is no reason for us to continue or apply for whatever activity we are questioning. If it is something you cannot live without, which I doubt it is, go ahead. I’ll pray for you, but go ahead.
Don’t succumb to peer pressure. There is a culture here at Northwestern that mandates everyone to be busy, busy, busy. The busyness at Northwestern is neverending. In fact, it is almost odd when we see someone who is not as busy as the next person. I feel like oftentimes the impetus to apply to things comes from peer pressure. It can be blatant, like when a friend tellis you, “You should apply! You would be so good at it! And you’re definitely going to get it…” But this pressure can also come just from being at Northwestern. Everyone seems to be applying for this one thing that everyone wants. And you feel like you should want it too. But you don’t! The sooner you realize that everyone is different, the sooner you can break away from the pressure-inducing, "you should do it all" attitude of everyone around you.
Do not pull a “Last Minute Larry.” You have done so well for the longest time by declining to apply for a particular club/position/death trap. Don’t waste all your efforts by applying in the end anyway. And yes, I did just call doing nothing an effort. At Northwestern, it is harder to stay still than it is to keep moving. Stick it out and don’t send that application. In fact, don’t even download it in the first place. Save yourself the pain of seeing that application on your desktop.
Enjoy your already-manic life. Congrats, you didn’t apply. Now go be the busy bee you already are. Once the stress of the coming week starts, you will be more than glad that you didn’t attempt to add something new to your plate. You are hopefully doing what you do because you love it, and not because you feel like you need to do something more.
I personally have started to reevaluate everything I do; I’m making sure I am doing what I do because I love it, not because it is a duty.
Ever since grade school we have been taught to say no to drugs. I say we say no to clubs.