Save some room for dessert
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. Oct. 2013
So now you’re popular; or at least, people are starting to expect more from you. Responsibilities, commitments, deadlines, schoolwork, part-time jobs, and relationships. When you do have free time these days, it fills up pretty quickly. Nobody has to point it out to you—after all, you feel it from the strain of carrying the world on your back—but they do anyways: you look tired and it can’t be ignored. How did this happen? How did you get so much on your plate?
It’s not a question of how, but rather a question of why. Those with too much going on have made a conscious choice to say “Yes” more, and by doing so, they’re receiving more opportunities. The result is far from the worst-case scenario. Sure, you’re thrashing about in the deep end, but what better way is there to learn to swim? Don’t be distracted by the competition; you set your own bars in life.
You are being productive and there is a clear path of progress, but the weight of it all can be damaging. You want to do more, but you’re afraid the standard of your work and the quality of your relationships will diminish, while the amount of rest you get will start depleting. Don’t panic yet: the crisis is all in your head.
Pick your battles. You’ll want to do everything, and that’s respectable, but sometimes it’s impossible. Prioritize your work, and ask yourself what’s most important to you. Sure, money and reputation are important, but it’s still your life and you get to determine how it plays out. Do you want a promotion at work or do you want to ace an exam? Do you want to spend more time with the family or do you want to earn a little bit more for a vacation? Understand what you are working for: by having a clear goal, you can then choose the most pertinent task and accomplish it. Focus on one thing at a time, and if work falls to the back burner, acknowledge it, communicate it, but don’t ignore the loss; someone is always willing to help you or forgive you, as long as you vocalize your issues. Your passion will decide what is most important—not your friends, family, instructors, or employers.
Covering your ass is not a bad habit. A little safety net while you work can help reduce stress. Always communicate with clients, employers, and everyone else in your life. Update them on the progress of work—honesty is the best policy. If they don’t appreciate you then, in my opinion, they aren’t worth working for or hanging around with. Keep the onus on you, and don’t be pushed around by others. Work hard, but do it because you want to do it, not because someone else demands it.
Treat yourself, because after a long day of toiling, you’ll need to recharge. Take a breather or a day off. Work and school are important, but you need to find time for friends and family. Watch a movie, go on a trip, and make plans that will break you from the norm. Schedule them in and treat those enjoyable obligations like they’re a paying job, because when it’s all said and done, that is what you’re really working for: the sweet reaping of fun.