Trips to the circus always make for a fun time.
The peanuts are good. The acts are mind-bending. Lions and bears take turns walking and jumping through hoops of fire. The circus tent heats up, and the music is hard to drown out. The packed crowd surrounds you in every direction. The over-stimulation of your senses causes you to question whether you really want to stay in the circus. It’s fun and exciting, but the stress can become too much to handle if you’re not careful. Instant relief hits once you step beyond the front curtain to the fresh air.
College life is similar to the circus. The peanuts are the temptations you face. The lions and the bears are classes and extracurriculars. The heat and the music represent the pressures we feel from our inner critics. You may think you have everything under control, but are you, the ringleader, thinking about the outcome?
Joining clubs and organizations always seems like the perfect addition for your resume but overtime the single line of text is just not worth the time and effort. Our classmates tackle dozens of responsibilities with ease, and we can’t help but feel as though we aren’t doing enough. And because we aren’t doing enough, we can never be enough. Graduates may commonly refer to college as “the good years,” but satisfaction is not guaranteed.
So how much is too much? The only person who can answer that question is yourself.
Classes should be prioritized – if you’re leaving your family for years at a time for a piece of paper, you might as well make sure that goal is achieved. Extracurriculars should add to your life, not take away from it.
Pursuing a club pertaining to your career and another that pacifies your personal interests will create a smooth balance between academics and fun. Participating in two extracurriculars outside of coursework allows you to learn things outside a classroom setting while not overwhelming yourself.
The perfectionist attitude we carry with us can help us produce high quality work, but at what cost to our mental health? Taking on too many projects at once can cause stress overload, which is why the school and life balance is so crucial, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“Perfectionism refers to a set of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors aimed at reaching unrealistically high goals,” according to Johns Hopkins’ website. “It is based on perceived standards of excellence and often fueled by the need for others’ approval.”
When talking to classmates, it’s hard not to compare yourself to them. How many credits are they taking? How many clubs/organizations do they take part in? How many internships have they done? We have to remember to do things for the betterment of ourselves, not to model our success out of other people’s molds.
Just because we have the time doesn’t mean we have the mental energy for new tasks. We don’t have to say “yes” to every opportunity we come across. Say “yes” to what you truly want to say to do, something you really enjoy or could see yourself benefiting from in the future.
As Briteny Spears sings in her song “Circus,” “I’m like a ringleader, I call the shots.” We all just need to be our own ringleader and call the shots.”
It’s almost like the song was written for us in our pre-teens to guide us through young adulthood.
Briteny knew. She always knew.
Amanda Martinez is a senior telecommunication major. Her column appears on Tuesdays.