Parr: The pressure of overloading on extracurriculars
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As a first-year who likes to dabble in lots of things, adjusting to college’s limitations has been a little odd. Over time, things either change or stay the same. We grow and realize things, even if those things are not exactly ideal.
“You’re never bored here — there is always something to do!”
That statement always seems to make itself into campus tours at Case Western Reserve University. I totally agree with it; there is always something to do. In fact, I would argue that there is sometimes too much to do. What a blessing and a curse.
At the risk of sounding bratty, I wish there was a way to pursue all your passions in college at once and still try new things. I am not sure that’s possible, though.
I’ve never had to pick and choose before; I’ve always had some way of managing to do everything I wanted, even if it meant sacrificing sleep and sanity. But doing everything is simply impossible here. In a way it’s good that we are limited — it’s not that we can’t drive ourselves insane trying to overload on life, but it’s harder to do so. There are so many events in so many places, and there is quite literally just not enough time in the day to pursue the amount of passions that a lot of us have.
There aren’t that many weekends in a semester, I understand that. Things take time to get ready and to prepare. And they deserve attention and dedication. It would make sense for a performing artist who loves singing to be able to participate in both choir and a musical.
I love acting and dancing and singing, but have never actually combined the three and performed in a musical. I would love to try, but I think I’d rather not know what I was missing, considering I would have to be missing something. I love singing in choir, so I was pumped to audition for Case Concert Choir—thing is, if I got in, I wouldn’t be able to audition for Heathers, a musical I’ve heard so much hype about, because both groups have a performance on the same date.
But singers like singing, right? So they shouldn’t be confined to either the choral or the musical theater genre. How wonderful it would be for similar groups on campus talk to one another so that participants can benefit from both experiences.
As I sat with my laptop, hastily looking through my calendar, emails and syllabi full of dates and commitments, I created a list of conflicts to hand in at Players’ Theatre Group auditions in a few weeks when classes would start to back up.
This is when I realized: One can only do so much.
In high school, choir was a part of the school day, play practice was right after classes, and dance classes were at night. Contributing to my school’s newspaper, leading the Gender Sexuality Alliance, participating in the history club, and more was on my own time.
But college schedules are so different from person to person—there is no way to compromise for everybody. For some reason, I had the great privilege of being “stressed but blessed” in high school.
Even to audition for student organizations that compete or main stage productions of anything would be impossible due to lack of ability to commit if granted membership or a role.
After spending four months at a new school in a new state, coming home to New Jersey with no books to read or essays to write gave me the perfect opportunity to reflect on all the experiences I’ve had in just my first semester. In doing this, I’ve also had the chance to think about what opportunities I’m looking forward to this spring. I realized that the plain truth is that there is no way to be involved in everything one may like to be.
Perhaps the best way to explain this phenomenon would in fact be “both a blessing and a curse.” But I have to admit, it’s almost nice that it’s nearly impossible to spread ourselves thinner than some of us already do.
Only being involved deeply in a few activities each semester may be what is best. Sure, people will be disappointed when you aren’t going to be in their club and you’ll be sad that you can’t be a part of it, but people are always respectful and understanding of packed schedules at CWRU.
And if you have to skip a practice or club meeting because of an essay or a test, no one will give you a hard time. That attitude is something new to me, and I kind of like it.
If someone is going abroad, they’re not going to “get in trouble.” At the end of the day, peers and professors wish students well and await their return. There is no shortage of students to draw from at CWRU, that is for sure. And that’s actually fantastic: Different students are going to get fantastic chances and opportunities to shine. It’s all about learning and growing, and sometimes, that goes on without certain people. It’s an important cycle, though.
Unfortunately, we do not have enough space in our schedules to experience everything all at once. To get the most out of our college experience, I think it’s necessary to cycle through activities to some capacity. It’s not the end of the world if one semester is spent doing other things.
There are only so many hours in a day, and people here get that; they understand that it’s okay for sleep to be a part of your schedule. One way to actually get sleep could be limiting yourself in terms of activities’ conflicting times and disciplining yourself to go back and forth each semester.
Another way to do control yourself could be, for example, to only be in one dance group, only one singing group and only one theater production per semester. And the next semester, rotate the activities you choose to be a part of.
Maybe you’ll be able to become a richer person by not spreading yourself too thin by focusing on a few things at a time as opposed to everything at once. In a way, that’s probably for the best.
Sarah Parr is a first-year and a performing arts enthusiast who just wants to experience as much as possible.