Over the past few days I've been struggling with the decision of whether or not to drop my Finance class. While the class was interesting, informative, and definitely helpful for my future, it was adding a lot of work to my limited amount of time that is already divided among four other classes, work study, my position at 1minute40seconds, and multiple clubs on campus. Then there's also the issue of having "Will" time to write things like this, take photographs, play music, and generally take part in the world around me. But at what point does it become necessary to consider dropping a class instead of plowing ahead and making things work? I always have a hard time quitting things that I've signed up for, feeling as though it's shirking my responsibility. Dropping a class always feels the same way and ultimately figuring out the decision causes a lot of stress.
As I was reaching a relative state of anxiety trying to figure out what the best decision for my future self would be, I came to the important realization that my future self will be able to handle whatever gets thrown at him just as I am able to today. The biggest difference between the unknowns of the future and the knowns of the present is that I am currently able to have a modicum control over the stressors in my life. Once I leave college behind me in May this opportunity will likely be less available to me. As a senior who has always taken more classes than necessary and has taken required classes as soon as possible I have a bit of leeway in determining how I spend my senior year. I realized that I could spend the year taking as many classes as possible while filling my schedule with classes and work so that 12 hour days sans breaks became the norm (as it had been so far this semester), or I could lighten my credit load a bit and participate more in some of the incredible opportunities only offered while in school.
Being at college offers you the incredible opportunity to participate in clubs and organizations of any kind imaginable, which I've done over the past three years. I've played in the Tufts Pep Band and the Wind Ensemble, danced on the ballroom team, and become president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), but these activities have always come second to classes and been second class citizens. Now with the newfound responsibilities of holding office in HFES, I've opened my mind to the simple thought that college is more than learning in classes and networking, it's a place to explore and play around with different clubs, responsibilities, and roles. While this is something I've always held to be true, I don't think now that I ever truly believed it before. Now I do.
My generation has been taught to do as many things as possible as well as we can. This has been great for me because I'm interested in so many different subject areas, but it keeps us from learning one of the most important aspects of success: focus. As the Twitter and Facebook generation, we've become used to constant interruption from notifications and being a pinball bumped around from track practice to the after class meeting, saxophone lessons, checking out the latest episode of Archer, and doing homework from five different classes. We don't know how to focus. When I'm in class I'm constantly responding to emails for other classes or groups, and while at group meetings I'm figuring out how to tackle my first set of homework problems. Maybe this is only a problem for me, but I find it hard to agree.
So what's the solution? Sacrifice. But not personal sacrifice. We don't have to sacrifice ourselves, our interests, our unique beliefs that mark us as individuals, but we have to sacrifice the idea of being able to do everything for everyone. Decisions have to be made and sometimes we have to trim the fat out of our lives. This could be choosing classes over activities as I have done in the past, letting a harmful friendship fade, or dropping a class that can be taken again the following semester. The key is to understand where you are and what is valuable to you. I made my decision and while the future me might have to struggle through some financial documents while starting a company, the present me is making sure he'll have a senior year to look back on and remember with happy recollection of activities and events that hopefully helped make him into the man he is.