Column by Suzy Berkowitz

suzy berkowitzMy pre-column anxiety has always been above and beyond the norm, but being that this column is my last preceding my all-too-volatile reflection, my anxiety has heightened considerably. I toyed with different topics, ranging from the benefits of financial independence to social media’s effect on the Arab Spring, but none seemed poignant enough to be the last sane note I leave the column world on.

As cliché as it is, I wanted my last column to be some sort of wise, old, sage-like piece of advice for youngins’ who still have a ways left to go here, but I wasn’t sure which angle to take until it was staring me in the face — literally, in the form of dark circles under my eyes. It’s the notion that in college, less is actually more.

From the day we arrive here as wide-eyed and fresh-faced cherubs, we’re hooked up to an IV of involvement, pumping clubs and organizations through our veins like blood. We’re encouraged to spread ourselves so thinly that our quantity of involvement far exceeds the quality. The college culture is so resume-obsessed that we often focus more on the goal than the destination.

I’ve had first and secondhand experience in over-involvement, and I still find myself catching the “do-er” bug every now and then. In my junior year, I was an Arts and Entertainment Copy Editor on The Oracle, on the Executive Board of the Residence Hall Student Association as treasurer, worked in the Theater Department’s costume shop and hauled along a 19-credit courseload. My over-involvement manifested itself in the poor work I produced, the lack of contact I maintained with my friends and family and the perpetual feeling of exhaustion and incompletion I couldn’t shake.

I know too many people who try to balance so much that  they can’t carry everything, and end up toppling over from the weight of their over-commitments. Far too many people throw themselves headfirst into activities they’re not particularly interested in just for another notch on their resume’s belt, and glorify their involvement when it entails half-assing several extracurriculars instead of whole-assing just one concentrated area of interest. I only know a handful of people who are able to balance all their branches of involvement, their job and academics and still manage to be decently-tempered individuals at the end of the day.

This isn’t to say students shouldn’t get involved and branch out when they arrive as wide-eyed, fresh-faced cherubs but, at some point, they should either reign in their interests or learn how to balance them. A person who hones in on their skills and shows progression in one area of involvement has a far more impressive resume than someone who jumps from activity to activity with no concrete contribution or lasting ripple.

I made it out of my junior year alive (barely), and promised myself to never be that over-involved again. I will always be a chronic “do-er” at heart and at the base of it all, I know it’s because I work best under pressure (which perhaps is what drove me to journalism), but I understand my limits. Less is more.