Today I wanted to share the best piece of advice I was ever given- this little tidbit has stuck with me the past year and has drastically shaped how I act on a day to day basis.
The best advice I ever heard came from a conversation with my sorority advisor. I had called her up in a crisis and explained that I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go and that I couldn't handle everything that the sorority and student life was throwing at me. She immediately took a train uptown and sat with me over coffee while I cried and vented and got out all my frustrations. As soon as I was done spilling everything that I could to her, she calmly explained to me a few important things, but the most important being:
you can do anything, but you can't do everything.
This really knocked the wind out of me when she told me this. I had always been taught by my community to reach for the stars and do what it takes to find your goals and meet your dreams, but I never thought about how much I overloaded myself in the process. I took on so much responsibility in trying to be the perfect student, the perfect sister, the perfect friend, the perfect sorority sister, the perfect daughter, the perfect job candidate, and I never realized the immense amount of pressure I put on myself. Part of that was because I was always in competitive communities. Growing up, I went to essentially a college prep private school in Atlanta- it was a hippie school, but nonetheless, an academically competitive school. Barnard and Columbia themselves are a brewing little bubble of stress, anxiety and competition- something that doesn't really aid those of us who are overly detailed oriented and perfectionists.
In talking to Aprill, I realized that I put too much pressure on myself to meet every single goal of my own and every single goal I assumed others had for me. I thought that if I knew someone else would do a worse job than me, I just should do it myself and make it right. I was spending hours and hours doing other people's work, or redoing other people's work because I wanted everything to be perfect.
Even now this realization has stuck with me. I was recently having a conversation with my parents about post-grad plans, since I graduate Barnard in less than a year, and I was explaining my summer plan for studying for and taking the GRE, and working on cleaning up my resume for next spring, and working on grad school applications and putting the final touches on my senior year. My parents looked at me like I was crazy- I had just gotten home from a 12 day family trip, had just finished the most grueling semester of college, and had just started a new job and was already hitting the pavement on the next steps. They reminded me to take a breath, enjoy the moment, and that I don't have to follow every single path I physically can. I've put post grad to the side for now, after deciding on postponing grad school to work, and I'm focusing on my moments here and now. It's wonderfully crucial to have goals and to constantly work to reach them. However, it's unhealthy to literally only work on your goals and to put in too much time to details to make everything perfect. In trying to do everything, I overworked myself and stopped myself from actually making progress on my goals.
I've found that making conscious goals and working towards them bit by bit is much more helpful than making sweeping goals and just running full force ahead towards them like a bull on the loose. It's hard to do it alone and having a support system to lean on and even to hold you accountable is so very important. Being able to talk to Aprill, or my friends, or my parents, or any of my close people in my life has been incredibly motivational for me and gives me a breath of fresh air when things are getting to be too overwhelming or confusing for me.
I hope y'all enjoyed my little bit of insight today! What's the best advice you've ever received?