I’m an incoming first-year and I want to make the most out of my university experience and do as many things as possible, but I also don't want to accidentally sign myself up for too much and fall into an overwhelming routine. How do I find a good balance here?
I’m completely the wrong person to answer this question. I mean, “overcommit” is practically my middle name. In my first year alone, I held two different first-year representative positions, ran in an undergraduate society election, was a club executive, helped plan a virtual conference and (of course) wrote for The Ubyssey.
Let me be clear about something, THIS IS NOT THE NORM. I know tons of other first-years who committed to the same things I did, but the difference is that they didn’t do all of it – they chose one or two things to focus on.
I will admit that it’s hard to decide, especially when you’re used to dabbling in many extracurriculars. It’s even more difficult to keep a balance when you overcommit (I’m looking at you, Iman from a year ago).
Like I said before, I do nothing in moderation, but here is my guide to trying to maintain balance in university. I mean, this advice column is for the university student trying to get by.
Interests, interests, interests
Sure, being the part of the debate club might give your mom something to brag about to her friends, but what if you hate debate?
Then it’s simple: don’t do it! That’s the special thing about university, you can explore your interests and try new ones — academic or otherwise — without always having to commit.
Join clubs and go to mixers. But if you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it just because you showed up to one meeting.
Go to an improv tryout, check out Model UN, attend some in-residence events — go when you’re interested and keep going if you keep being interested. That’s the key. If you do things you like and are passionate about, it’ll be easier to keep things balanced because you won’t overcommit to one hundred and one things you don’t give a damn about.
Papers, people, parties, oh my!
UBC, like any university, is filled with a million opportunities. But balancing papers, people and parties is the most important way to ensure you get the most out of your university experience.
Writing papers, or “school,” is probably why you’re here. I make sure to prioritize this first. I mean, we are in university. We pay the big bucks to get good grades! The “student” part comes first. It’s student athlete. Student politician. Student journalist (not at all a shameless plug to join The Ubyssey).
The people and parties categories are a bit more complex. People can mean your family, friends or clubs. Or all three! Parties can be any big social gathering – even club meets.
Balancing school and time with your friends is hard! But there are some ways to kill two birds with one stone, like studying or joining a club with your friends!
And to keep track of everything – MAKE A CALENDAR! I know, it’s basic, but I promise that it helps so much to have everything you’re doing all in one place.
Maintaining friendships, making connections and keeping time for yourself in spite of school and extracurriculars make for a balanced lifestyle that you’ll be happy with.
You Can Say “No”
That’s it. You can say “no” and you should say “no” when you’re busy, overwhelmed or just need some good old-fashioned time to yourself.
Whether you’re a little bit of a people pleaser (like me) or you suffer from a hardcore case of FOMO (I really keep calling myself out), it’s hard to say no. But it’s important to say no and set those boundaries of what is enough.
Your friends want to go out but you haven’t had a night to yourself in seventeen days? Say no. Your club’s president asks you to run a booth but you have plans to grab ice cream with your friends? Say no.
Saying no also won’t make people mad at you! I promise! Everyone’s busy and everyone has commitments whether that’s school, clubs, work or anything in between. Saying no isn’t the end of the world because you’ll almost always have that opportunity come up again.
Plus, taking a night every so often to yourself is worth saying no.
So sit back, relax, light a candle, read your favourite book and say no.
You’re doing great. Keep it up!
Need advice? Send your questions, queries or problems to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit anonymously at ubyssey.ca/advice!