By Taylor Perkins
Wandering through the crowded tables stacked high with flyers, free knick knacks and plenty of opportunities, the student activities fair becomes many students first way to get involved on campus. This is a great way to really expand your mind on just how inclusive Drury’s campus feels. If you have an interest, the university most likely has a club for you to fulfill that passion.
So what do you do after you have said yes to what feels like 20 different organizations that all meet within the same few days at similar times? Well first take a deep, big breath. Now grab your planner (don’t have a planner? Go to Target and fix that problem). Grab a pencil because you know that you are going to have to write, erase and rewrite certain dates and times.
The difficult part begins with ranking your priorities. You may be thinking to yourself: “Well I love all these things, I want to do it all.” I do not mean to burst your bubble, but realistically you cannot do it all. We all only have 24 hours in a day and you need to sleep at some point (at least I do). Even if you, for some reason, think you do not need to sleep, you do have to be a functioning member of our community and that cannot happen if you over-commit.
I have found it helpful to have a monthly, weekly and hourly layout in my planner. In the monthly layout I record the larger events I have to attend, deadlines and my work schedule. In the weekly layout I record the dates of the meetings, my to do list and my homework assignments. The hourly layout may be the most important. I block out the hours I am in class, my work hours and when I am volunteering with different organizations. I find this to be the most helpful because I am able to see when I have my free time. I can then strategically go about my day knowing when my breaks will be. Pencil in those mandatory events like class and work. Now look at the time commitments of the potential organizations you want to be a part of. See which ones fit and which ones do not. Do they align with your passions? If so, you are good to go. If not, you have to reevaluate your previous commitments to fit your desired organizations in. My best advice is to limit yourself to a maximum of 4 clubs. Any more than four club involvements will more than likely result in you stretching yourself too thin. Starting with one or two clubs to start and expanding along the way is another good way to go.
For me, I decided on becoming heavily involved in Kappa Delta and The Mirror. I am a part of a few other campus organizations but I have found that a majority of my time goes to these two groups. Kappa Delta has helped me grow as a leader and allows me to be involved in something greater than myself. The values of my chapter, and the values as a Panhellenic community, have helped my confidence soar. Greek life has given me so many valuable memories and opportunities. When I joined The Mirror my freshman year I was terrified of how different it would be from my high school newspaper. What I have learned from The Mirror is also important. I have strengthened my writing abilities and advanced my technical skills for the career field I hope to go into in the future. The Mirror has given me hands on and practical experience that I can utilize in my class work and the future. Having connections to groups like these also give you great networking opportunities.
It gets easier with time, too. So while this may be overwhelming, you soon learn what you want to invest yourself in and what you want to quit. It took me a year to realize this, but I would rather be involved fewer organizations and put my whole heart into them. Going into my sophomore year I have definitely said no to things, things I said yes to last year and new opportunities that presented themselves over the summer. Know that life is too short to be unhappy. If you feel overwhelmed by an organization, consider your options. Do you still really need to stick around?
It can be uncomfortable to have to quit something, but trust me it is possible. The best way I have found is to email the person in charge. Ideally, you would talk with them in person but that does not always happen. In your email explain that you are thankful for the opportunity and incredibly humbled to be considered for the role you were supposed to play in the organization. Explain that it is not fair to them or yourself to commit to something you cannot deliver on. Do not be short with them and be understanding of their feedback. Many times they will get back to you pretty quickly. They may even ask to talk in person (if you did email them) about why you want to quit. Do not be intimidated, they really just want your feedback. A lot of the leaders of clubs at Drury are students themselves and they understand how pressed everyone is for time. At the end of the day they just want what is best for you, too. In some cases they will end up extending you an invitation to potentially get involved later on if/when your schedule frees up. This is great because it does not completely cut you off from a group you may consider in the future.
Drury has so many wonderful opportunities to get involved and stay connected on campus which is great until those time commitments drown you. While it can be beneficial to list the plethora of activities you participated in throughout your time here, it is even better to be able to explain how you made a difference in what you were involved in. If all you did was hop from meeting to meeting with no input, what impact did you really leave? Be engaged in your involvement.
What I gained from saying no is a sense of freedom and a new sense of responsibility. I love what I am involved with. My extracurriculars are no longer chores, but rather things that motivate me throughout the day. It can become very exhausting very quickly to put yourself into a daily routine that drags you down. Put yourself in situations that challenge you to become a better person. You will thank yourself and be even happier when you can see that you are making a difference.