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The yes man

I’m only taking fourteen credit hours this semester.

During my first year at Miami, I promised myself it was a minimum of seventeen or bust; I had so much that I wanted to get done academically over the four years I’d have here, and there would be no room for slacking off. Yet, here I am at a solid four classes, plus marching band, with all of my friends at 18-20 hours.

“Want to do (insert fun thing here)?” they’ll ask, only to be met with the standard “Sorry, I’m too busy.”

You see, this semester might not be academically encumbered for me, but that doesn’t mean I have a free schedule — in fact, it’s anything but. For me, it’s clubs and activities rather than schoolwork that will be soaking up the majority of my fall.

I’m a color guard captain in the Miami University Marching Band this year. I’m a Moose — a member of the Miami University Student Foundation (MUSF) (“Students helping students; past, present, and future.”) I took on the vice presidency of Miami’s skydiving club, the Dropouts, despite the fact that I never got to dive my first year on campus due to the COVID pandemic. 

And — oh yeah — I’m the Opinion section’s assistant editor here at TMS.

There’s also the fact that I’m starting my master’s degree this semester as part of the joint BA/MA program in the Spanish department (and that’s on top of my two majors and a minor). I tour prospective families around campus as a Miami tour guide once or twice a week, I'm working on getting my first novel published and I’m trying to start learning Arabic. 

I’d also like to still have a social life after a year stuck alone inside. 

So honestly, at this point, forget food. Forget sleep.

Whenever I info-dump all of this onto someone, they are always surprised — or maybe horrified would be a better word? 

How am I doing all of this? I’m beginning to wonder a similar question myself: why am I doing all of this? How did I get so involved in so many things, and why don’t I just drop some?

I’ve given it a lot of thought, because I know that this semester is going to be absolutely insane for me. And, as tends to happen when one thinks, I’ve come up with some very real answers that I really need to face.

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We’ve all heard of the concept of a “yes man,” and no, I’m not talking about the 2008 Jim Carrey movie with a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes

A “yes man” is someone who can’t say no to any opportunity that comes their way, and I’ve come to the realization that I am one of these people. After all, every club or activity or academic challenge I find is more new and exciting than the last; I wouldn’t want to turn any of them down.

That’s how I got into this situation. Now how do I get out of it?

The simple answer would be to drop one of my non-academic activities. Does all of Miami University really need to hear my weekly opinions on snow, Valentine’s Day, or chocolate-chip cookies? Should I really make plans to jump out of a plane with only a parachute and an instructor this semester? Surely I can wait til spring to seek out publishing agencies for my book?

The longer answer, though, is that I don’t actually want to get out of it at all. I chose to say yes to all of these activities because I enjoy them. 

I want to be a skydiving, book-publishing, flag-spinning, article-writing, Arabic-learning, family-touring master’s student who helps raise scholarship money for future students and enjoys the company of their friends every once in a while. When someone inevitably asks me over J-term what I did this past semester, I want to be able to say, “I did it all.”

It sounds corny, but I know it’s true.

In the end, I’m in college, and when will I ever have the opportunity to pick up a new language or skydive so cheaply again? When in my adult life will I be able to have three to five families hanging on to my every word, or be able to march on a field with some of my favorite people in the entire world, throwing flags and rifles in the air? 

Before I graduate and am faced with all of the problems that a real-world adult life brings, I have two more years. Two more years to do it all. Two more years to overload myself with too many things I enjoy. That’s not so bad, is it?

So no, I don’t regret saying yes so many times. But I do know my limits — from now on, it’s a no from me!