I have a problem. I can’t say “no” to things.
Wait. Is that actually a problem?
In college, we have the power to say “yes” or “no” on a daily basis…having very little at stake with the ultimate decision. There are so many opportunities and choices that we can take advantage of without even thinking about it. Exhibit A – I’m walking to class this morning and get bombarded with 5 different organizations handing me a flyer for an event they’re each having tonight. Do I say “no thanks, I need to study,” or do I go out of my way to plan my time around studying earlier and try something new tonight?
1. NOW is the time to say yes.
I recently realized that the ability to say “yes” is a really cool power to have, and it’s easy to understand once you put it into perspective. Imagine everyone who has finished with college and moved on with their lives. A lot of things they do, and want to do, have to be in line with their different responsibility circles – family, bosses, income, time, children. Most of our parents can’t just wake up one morning and decide they are going to spend an entire summer in Europe hanging out with their friends. We can. It’s called study abroad. People slightly older than us who just started their first job can’t go out every night of the week and still save face with their boss. Most people who want a change of pace can’t just walk out of their door and find a cool organization to join. It takes time. Lots of things about growing up mean that you are forced to be very particular about the things that you can say “yes” to and allow yourself to do.
But us students? The only thing we have to worry about is making the most of our time at school. This means doing everything and anything we can to learn, and have fun in the short time we have.
2. Why wait?
When I started college, this was my mentality. I was going to be a “yes (wo)man.” I would join as many clubs, meet as many friends, and try as many new things as I could. I was ready to try everything and stretch my mental and emotional limits (as well as those of my Google Calendar). Because why wait? There’s no point of only making sure you do well in classes – if you need convincing, ask any recruiter of any company what they look for in candidates besides GPA. (The answer is a lot.)
3. It’s the perfect way to embrace the college life.
There are lots of people who would think I’m cliché for “embracing the college life,” and to that I say I would rather sacrifice some sleep and my grades a little here and there, to look back 10 years from now and say that I did absolutely everything I could. I’m not satisfied with doing the same things and hanging out with the same people every day, and I became this way because of some of my peers, who are the best go-getters and do-it-all people I have ever met. Do they get burnt out and say “fml” when they wake up in the morning, sometimes? Sure. Do they regret any of it? No. And even if they did, they would just stop doing that thing and move on.
4. What’s the worst that could happen?
One of the best pieces of advice I received at my internship was, “Do way more than you think you can.” It inspired me into understanding that I’m not doing anybody any favors by working within my limits. If you take an extra leadership role in a club that you’re in, but you know you have a million other things to do, what’s the worst that could happen? You could quit. And that’s fine for now. Because eventually, you will learn to prioritize, which is an amazing skill to have. There’s not much to prioritize when you shut out opportunities in the first place just so you can have some more time to nap or play video games. You’ll know when some commitment is seriously hurting you and not making you any happier, and it’s okay to quit then and say no once you’ve given it a fair shot.
5. It could make for some good karma!
This all goes for relationships as well – a lot of people complain that their friends always ask them for help and they oblige, at the expense of their own convenience. We’ve all been there. No matter how packed our schedule is, if someone we know needs something from us, it’s hard to say no. However, unless taking a second to help them will seriously detriment your day, this also has the same principle. Just say “yes” – If you can help someone, do. It will always come back in your favor someday, and you will feel really good about it as well.
Think hard about anything missing in your life, or something that was in front of you and you looked past because you didn’t have the time or effort to put in. Seek it out. Join a new club, apply for a new position, ask your boss for more work. Take it all on and embrace the learning without the risk. I’ll say it again – the ability to say “yes” is a power. The amount of things you can take on with little risk dramatically decreases as you get older. This is our buffer between childhood and adulthood, so I urge everyone to really take a look at their schedules and think about what they want to accomplish before graduating, and then go out and find ways to make it happen.
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Anu is a senior at Georgia Tech, studying Economics and Business. Anu loves music, writing, travelling, laughing, learning languages, and being outdoors. At any given time, you can find her watching The Office or laughing at her own jokes. She is super stoked about sharing her thoughts with other college students on Society19!