Menon: The myth of doing it all

We’ve all heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” Yet, everywhere I look, I see the quintessential “smart girl” in the books and movies who seems to be a master of every single trade she encounters. My favorite is Pretty Little Liars’ Spencer Hastings who manages to maintain perfect grades and hair while fighting off a psychopathic stalker and solving her best friend’s murder. Literally the first thing that popped into my head was how the girls on the show were able to handle daily blackmails, while I was struggling with daily quizzes in Calculus class.

The whole “sleep is for the weak” mentality is destructive, and I spent a lot of time trying to juggle school, too many extra curricular activities and five hours of sleep. But why is it that it is frowned upon to show up to class drunk, but it is okay to show up sleep deprived? Especially when studies have proven that sleep deprivation has similar effects on the body as intoxication.

College students are expected to perfectly juggle taking care of their health with carb-loaded dining hall food and no time to work out, handle multiple course loads with professors who behave like theirs is the only class a student is taking that semester and be involved in every club and varsity team with enough homework in one week to spill over to three different weekends.

It’s too much.

Sheryl Sandberg slightly touched upon in her book, ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,’ that it is impossible for one person to do it all, or have it all. For example, this semester, I decided to sign up for an extra club that sounded fun and just like the perfect club for me. It was only at the orientation that I realized that I would have at least three competitions coming up, and at least six hours of practice even on non competition weeks. Considering I was already committed to three other extra curricular activities, I knew that it was impossible that I could juggle school, those clubs, and this one. It would come down to either this club, or the other three. Even in that room at orientation I could feel a panic attack coming on. I excused myself early and left, and by the time I’d reached my suite I knew that I wanted to quit.

I only have 24 hours in a day, and there is no reason why I should spend a single minute on an activity that takes away time from the activities that I really love. And I can assure you, that while typing up that email that I wanted to quit was one of the most humiliating things I’ve done in my life, the relief I felt the minute I pressed send was unparalleled.  

Arundhati Menon is second-year student.