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Do things that light a fire in you, not burn you out

This may sound abrasive, but you are the reason you are so stressed out. 

Big picture: it’s because you willingly play into society’s stigma that the only path to success is to have a hand in every bucket you can reach.

Small picture: it’s because you are doing things for the wrong reasons. 

You are overloaded with work for all of your courses, you have joined an organization you don’t like because it looks impressive on your resume and you sacrifice all potential free time trying to balance it all out (or looking for more to do). 

You are deliberately taking on more than you can handle and then wondering why you can’t find your sanity or more than a few hours of sleep.

It only leaves you feeling burnt out, with multiple existential crises a week about whether or not anything you’re doing even matters and if you’re even going to be able to find a job after college or if you just wasted tens of thousands of dollars to be walking the tightrope of the poverty line. 

Let me be clear: this is by no means an attack on people who do a lot at Miami, but rather a push to re-evaluate why you’re doing whatever it is you're doing with your time here.  

Having gone through that myself, I can tell you it’s not worth it. 

For me, it started last January, right after I had gotten back from winter break. My family had just moved across the country, my boyfriend had just dumped me and all of my friends were just starting rush week without me. 

I felt so lonely. 

I started looking for student organizations to join in the hopes of finding some new friends. The one organization I had found that interested me was Speech and Debate. Having enjoyed it in high school, I was pretty excited to find out there was an opportunity to continue in college. 

Instead, I found only two people, neither of which I got along with. To make matters worse, I  found out the style of debate done here was one I had experienced in high school and hated. 

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But I stayed. 

Then, I went to a competition and did not win a single argument, making me realize I was pretty bad at debate, which made me hate it even more. 

But I stayed. 

Not only that, I decided to become president of the club, hoping to turn it around. Instead, I would feel massive anxiety from this thing that I didn’t even like doing in the first place. 

I thought that by joining and leading a club, I’d find satisfaction and a sense of belonging here. In reality, I just felt even more lonely, my free time being held hostage by debate, and my stress levels spiking. 

In October 2019, I quit, losing my position as president and starting over with no extracurricular involvement. It took me way longer than it should have to leave.

I should have realized from the first club meeting that this wasn’t for me and walked away. Instead, I decided  a fancy title and leadership experience on my resume was more important to me than my own mental wellbeing. 

I traded out debate, which was making me miserable, for other organizations  I was excited to be a member of. 

Now, I have the time to be involved in The Miami Student and publish my writing — a goal I’ve had for as long as I can remember. As cheesy as it sounds, following my passions rather than fancy titles has made my time here more meaningful. 

If you are doing something that you don’t like just because you think it’ll check off this imaginary box — stop. Odds are, whatever end goal you are pursuing can be found doing something more enjoyable. 

Take 20 credit hours, study abroad, run for an executive board position for your organization — but do it because you genuinely have a passion for those things, not because you’re trying to outrun and outperform everyone else. 

hickmael@miamioh.edu

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