Learning to Say No

I’ve always been the type of person to bite off more than I can chew. This tendency worsened last year, when lockdown struck, and I was spending even more time than usual staring at my screen.

In the spring of 2021, I was stuck at home, spending nearly every waking hour in my room, either sleeping or on my computer. I was taking an extremely difficult course load, doing undergrad research, and a couple other extracurriculars. I could feel the quality of my work beginning to degrade, but it took me until midway through the semester to finally drop my statistics class.

Before dropping the class, and even after for a time, I felt like a failure for being unable to complete the class. However, I see now that my real failure was signing up for the class to begin with. I’d forgotten the purpose of going to university is to find a fulfilling passion and career, not work myself to death chasing a 4.0 and packed resume. In other words, when school, work, and extracurriculars became too much, I was too scared to say “no” upfront and paid the price in stress and time.

More recently, I think I’ve gotten better at saying no. I’ve already accepted a summer 2022 internship and in doing so declined a number of competing offers and interviews. Last week I took a trip to the beach, where I could finally relax without thinking about my job, interviews, or school.

In the upcoming semesters, I hope to spend less time on things I think will fill my resume and more time making social connections and learning about myself. I could easily bury myself in work again, like I always have in the past, but that is an endless and unfulfilling process.

Image of the Ocean Image of the Ocean I took at the end of a pier