The biggest lesson I may have learned in college was the lesson of saying “no”. Not only to others but to myself. Time is a very precious thing in school. You have your classes, school work, clubs, meals (yes, I had to schedule mine), friends, appointments with teachers or tutors, games and just life. Time management is a struggle in school. You have all this freedom but you have to learn how to be responsible and how to appropriately manage your time in order to accomplish anything.
I still struggle with time management but now it’s more about me being lazy when I get home from work rather than not knowing how to juggle everything. How I learned to manage my time was learning to say no to my friends and myself. In a way they’re the same thing.
I remember first semester freshman year I was so ready to do everything, try everything and make those memories that everyone talks about missing when they graduate. Whenever any friend wanted to hang out I really wanted to be a part of the shenanigans. Mind you, my shenanigans were typically college planned or funded, so nothing too crazy. I would put off my work to hang out which isn’t bad however I never balanced my work time with fun time. I really had to reflect and begin telling myself no to going out or putting off the last few chapters in my readings. After my first activities fair on campus I was signed up for about 10 different clubs and I worked so hard to try and balance all the meetings and work for each, on top of my school work. They were all clubs that I really believed in and wanted to be a part of. This was probably the hardest time to tell myself no and accept that I just don’t have the time to spend being an active member in each of these clubs. I had to just let myself be a supporter rather than an active participant in everything.
Along with this I also had to learn how to tell my friends no when it came to hanging out or even favors. It also wasn’t uncommon that a friend would ask me to help work a table for their club or to study with them, and even though I cared for my friends and I would often help out or tag along, it wasn’t the best decision for me. I had a very particular study style in college and it had to be met or I wouldn’t get a thing done during my study session. I had to be in either the library or a lounge but by myself. If I was sitting with anyone I would immediately get distracted and would not shut my mouth; I would talk my friends’ ears off. When I had deadlines to meet and friends would want to do a study session I would say no and explain that I just wouldn’t be able to meet my goals if I wasn’t working solo for the night.
Your friends will understand if you don’t study with them or if you say that you need to stay in on a weekend. You’ll also thank yourself in the end when you tell yourself no to some things because you will ultimately have a little less on your plate and you won’t be kicking your butt that you signed up to run 5 events on top of class work and that big exam coming up. You might feel a little guilty for putting your needs first but you have to remember that your needs come first. There’s nothing wrong with helping someone every now and again but don’t forget to help yourself.
This week try to give yourself a little bit of a break, take on a little less than you normally would and don’t feel guilty about it!