I have always had a talent for overcommitting myself. It can be difficult for me to choose between the opportunities in front of me because so often, many of them interest or inspire me. My senior year of high school was the first time I reached the “tipping point” of how much was too much, and the results were tough to work through. I was forced out of necessity to prioritize the tasks in front of me, so those that I probably could have done with out took a back seat. Those were the places where I severely underperformed, which is entirely unlike me. With those things I should have passed on, performance became necessary the moment I committed to them… the problem was that I didn’t have much performance left in me by the time I had gone through the things that took my more full attention.
It has been a constant learning process throughout college as I figure out how to recognize how much is too much and how much is just right (think like a Goldilocks of the extracurricular college world). Especially now, my choices seem to have so much more weight– everything I choose to spend my time on is something that can eventually help me get where I want to be, so naturally I want to take this time to experience the things that are going to be the best for me as a professional, as a student, and as a woman. “No” has never been a word that has been easy for me to say, out loud or otherwise, and I still often slip into that “I’ll find a way to make it work” mindset. One thing that’s changed since senior year, however, is that I’ve been to that “I can’t find a way” place. It’s scary, and a place where giving 20% to something somehow becomes acceptable to me because that’s all that’s left.
I am a 100% kind of person, and it’s important for me now to know what a comfortable level of commitment is to ensure that 100% is available for everything I’m doing. For that reason, yesterday I turned down an additional internship opportunity for this semester. I walked into my meeting with the creative writing department head expecting to find a way to make it work, but as she began asking me questions about what my semester looked like, I heard a little voice in my head start to whisper “this is when you say ‘no.'” Even though the internship in question was not a huge time commitment in itself, I knew that we were suddenly not talking about an additional opportunity– we were discussing my tipping point, and it was time for me to walk away. So I did with the blessing of a professional who understood, one who encouraged me to contact her next year if my commitments were in a better place to work with her again.
It has long been a struggle for me to feel comfortable recognizing my limitations without feeling like I’m disappointing myself or the people around me, but I have found that the only time I have been disappointed is when I took on too much and didn’t put forth my best work. It helped absolutely no one when I put forth less than my best, least of all myself because I know what I’m capable of. Friday, I recognized my tipping point before getting to the point where I had to put together a performance priority list. I realized it was okay to walk away from an opportunity that I would not have gotten the most out of and that I would not have given my best to. I am a college girl who wants to look back at her time in college as a marriage of fun, productivity, and opportunity… that wouldn’t be possible if I was constantly on the edge waiting to tip. For now, what I am doing is enough, and it will get me exactly where I want to be… at 100%.