I have many flaws (who doesn’t?!): I’m foolishly stubborn, I never go to the gym, I often stay up too late, and I have a massive sweet tooth, just to name a few. But, luckily for me, I have just knocked one supposed negative off my list…or, well, I’ve used a little smoke and mirrors to make this flaw appear not so bad after all.
I used to think that, in life, I used the word “yes” way too often. I know what you may be thinking: this girl is nuts. She considered saying “yes” as a personal imperfection? Truth be told, though, I really did. My inability to turn down things I was offered—small jobs, requests for my help, participation in various clubs, activities and teams—led me into a crazy circus of sorts, juggling too many things at once and not having the heart to let a ball or two drop. Saying “yes” was just my nature, as was my need to start and finish every endeavor to the best of my ability.
Fast forward to the middle of my freshman year in college, and you will see me as a full-time student, a News Editor for the campus paper, a math tutor, a committee member for the college’s Relay for Life, a teaching and editorial assistant for a history professor and a new honor society inductee (and almost a zombie). I’d be surprised if you managed to just read all of that in one breath.
Nevertheless, I somehow managed to survive my entire freshman year pretty much unscathed, and, yes, happy with my progress as a college student. When I realized that, despite the sometimes stressful days I had of running back and forth between meetings and classes and the library, I was enjoying myself, and I felt that I was doing a good job with my life. I had a lot to show for all my hard work: great newspaper clips, hours of valuable work experience, a smashing resume, and plenty of good memories with my friends.
That’s when I realized I had quickly morphed my propensity to say “yes” to interesting prospects that came my way, what I had once viewed as a flaw and possibly my hamartia, into a blessing in disguise. Dare I say it—I was succeeding at doing it all. I’m here to tell you how you can, too.
Of course, as college students, we often face a world of “no”—from an uncompromising job market to skyrocketing student debt—but in reality, the more you can say “yes” to opportunities presented to you, the more you will learn, experience, and live.
College is the perfect time to explore your interests, try challenging things, and discover new places. What other time in your life would you be able to run from math class to an intramural soccer game and then finally to a service club meeting? First and foremost, doing it all is fun, whether you are seriously delving into a personal passion or just participating in something to meet new people and have a good laugh. You should always make time for an activity that you enjoy and that keeps you active, happy, and engaged. Get out there and pursue what you want, even for just a little while; you’ll be glad you did.
In trying to manage all of these exciting things, you’ll be forced to manage your time, prioritize, stay organized, communicate, be efficient… I could go on and on. These are all critical life skills that you will need to practice in your future to be successful, regardless of what you do, where you go, or who you will become. Having a day jam packed with classes, meetings, obligations, and work shifts will be no different than the real world, where there’s dry cleaning to pick up, family and friends to visit, business to attend to, and an apartment to clean. Why not start learning to balance your life and create a day-to-day routine now? By doing it all in college, improving these qualities is disguised, since, remember, you’re having fun.
Finally, doing it all puts you ahead of the pack. Being well-rounded is not just important when applying for college; it will most certainly serve you well later on in life. You may not realize now how that cool pottery class or video game club will benefit you in the future, but who knows? Knowledge or skills you have developed from everything you have done in college could help you in an interview, on the job, connect you with influential or important people… the possibilities are endless. (And hey, if you find out that Harry Potter club really wasn’t too useful ten years down the road, at least you’ll have some embarrassingly funny photos to reminisce with and will have learned how to make a fictitious potion or two.)
Anyway, the bottom line is this: the more opportunities you seize, the more chances you have to add another run on your experience ladder. And of course, the higher you are, the easier it is to reach success.
As I have well learned, doing it all can, and will, be stressful (especially if you—like me—want to dedicate yourself completely to everything that you are involved in). But, I hope that knowing it is worth it will push you to keep it up in college. Saying “yes” isn’t a flaw… it can help you immensely in the long run.
College offers us young adults a world of possibility, from courses, internships, activities, sports, jobs and adventures—take advantage of everything at your fingertips before the real world kicks in.
Nicole Alliegro will be a junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey (Class of 2014). She is studying Communication Arts with a concentration in journalism and is editor of the campus newspaper. She will intern at WABC-TV in New York City in the fall. Aside from reading and writing, Nicole enjoys traveling, watching anything on Bravo and spending time with her family and friends. Follow her on twitter or send her an email.