Classes have been in session for only one week at Ithaca College, and I’m already feeling stressed out and anxious! Even though this is my last semester of college (that’s right, I’m graduating this May, which is frightening and stressful by itself), my schedule is pretty full with classes, volunteering, student organizations, work, and the like. I’ve started anticipating my busy weeks and forgetting to add to my “to-do” list. Yikes.
During the fall semester, I was running non-stop. I wasn’t sleeping, eating right or taking time to relax. My mind and body were worn out. I found that I couldn’t fully devote myself to any of my commitments. By early December, I realized that I had spent the first half of my senior year completely stressed and exhausted. That’s not how I wanted to spend my final semester of college.
I’ve been actively involved on and off campus since my freshman year. I’m deeply passionate about mental health advocacy and awareness—thus, I volunteer at the local crisis service and serve as president for my college’s chapter of To Write Love On Her Arms. Those commitments take up a lot of time, and serving as president of a student organization comes with stress. Lots of stress. The end result, however, is worth it. Nothing makes me happier than seeing TWLOHA members each week, bonding and working together to spread our message across campus.
As a journalism major, I’m also passionate about visual storytelling and broadcast news. I’ve been involved with my college’s news show, Newswatch 16, for four years and I love every stressful moment of it! After producing during the fall semester, I was hoping to anchor and produce Newswatch 16 for the spring. As I planned out my spring schedule, I became overwhelmed. Taking on all of these different projects and packing my weekly schedule to the max was not a good idea.
Why do women leaders bite off more than they can chew? Why do we feel the need to take on everything all at once? Personally, I get involved with student organizations, volunteer opportunities and internships that offer me personal fulfillment and meaning. We women leaders have so many interests and talents, and we want the opportunity to challenge ourselves. But where do we draw the line? When we begin neglecting our physical and mental well being, it’s time for a reality check. We need to learn that saying “no” isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean that we’re not devoted or determined. Saying “no” means that we realize what’s best for ourselves and the group. Spreading myself too thin destroyed my personal well being, and inhibited my ability to effectively contribute to my groups and organizations. Narrowing my leadership focus helps me keep my sanity and strengthens my commitment.
As the New Year approached, I decided to make some resolutions. I wanted to spend 2012 being happy, healthy and sane. I reprioritized. I had to be realistic about my limitations, realizing that I’m not Superwoman (and let’s face it, she is completely fictional). I had to turn down the chance to anchor at the news station, realizing that producing Newswatch 16 would give me stronger news writing and production skills. I scheduled time to workout and to cook healthy meals. I picked up fun and interesting classes that were outside of my journalism curriculum. Most importantly, I made myself my first priority.
Even though the New Year has been in full swing for 30 days, I’ve found myself slipping up here and there. There are days I can’t schedule a workout or find myself getting too overwhelmed instead of relaxing. But one of my resolutions is to ease up on myself, to stop being my own worst critic. I have to accept that I’m not perfect and I can’t do it all. I will make mistakes and have failures, and that’s ok. This year will be my chance to learn that being perfectly imperfect is the key to authenticity and happiness.
How will you be “perfectly imperfect” in 2012? Let me know below!
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm
Learn more about Meg here.