Ask a Former Stress Addict: Please Club Responsibly

Dear Fiona,

I’ve been a part of many different clubs in the past here at Lawrence, and at every Activities Fair I seem to sign up for more. I’m starting to feel super overwhelmed! These organizations are really important to me, but I feel like my schoolwork is suffering because of all the time I devote to going to meetings and stuff. I don’t want to leave any of these groups, but what else could I possibly do to make sure I don’t overbook myself and go crazy?

– Overwhelmed and Overinvolved 

Dear Overwhelmed and Overinvolved,

So many clubs, so little time! It’s the age-old Lawrentian tale. Student organizations are an important part of many students’ experience here at Lawrence. They help you make friends with people sharing common interests, you get to be a part of cool events, and they generally just help make Lawrence a super awesome place to go to school. I totally get the impulse to be a part of all of them, but let’s take a step back for a second. School is hard. Homework is hard. Life is hard. You have to prioritize. I’m going to throw down some hard truth here: you need to pick a couple of clubs to drop or at least become less involved in.

Here’s how I suggest you do this: make a list of the clubs you’re in and then separate them into categories based on how interested you are. If you’re not super into making lists like I am, you can do this in your head when you’re trying to fall asleep or something.You should have a category for the clubs that are cool, but less important to you, a category for the ones that you love, but take up too much time, and lastly a category for the ones that are absolutely essential to you. There shouldn’t be more than two clubs in that last category.

The clubs in the first category you should probably drop, or if that is too heartbreaking for you, then just don’t go to the meetings and most of the events. For the second category, only go to meetings or events if you don’t have much work to do. That’s a hard call to make, but it’s an important one. For your last category, it’s OK to be super invested and go to the meetings and events. However, if you are swamped with work, it really is all right to skip it. No one’s going to be mad at you. We all go to this school, we all have tons of work to do and no one will be upset that you are prioritizing academics over the club.

If you’ve ended up in a position of power in one or more of these clubs, like treasurer or president or something, you’re going to have to very critically assess whether or not you are up to the job. If you are not, you need to let others in club know. Together you can work out a replacement or a way for you to take on less responsibility. You wouldn’t be doing yourself or the club any favors by taking on a job that you would not be able to do well.

Taking these actions may feel really tough and harsh, but it’s for the best. Don’t dedicate too much time to student orgs, and make sure that you are leaving enough for homework and downtime. Do not, I repeat do not think that you don’t have to allow for downtime. It’s something we all need in order to stay sane. If that means cutting back on the number of clubs you’re involved in, then so be it. Your mental health is the most important thing.

Good Luck!

–  Fiona