Involvement at MU is simple: It’s all about balance

While balancing being a student and active in campus life both can be a challenge, there are a few ways to make it manageable.

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With over 600 organizations to choose from, and an opportunity to create an organization all your own, MU makes it impossible to say, “there’s just nothing to do here.”

This plethora of activities fosters a welcoming, thriving environment that ensures us there is a place where students belong. At the same time, choosing among these organizations can be difficult, especially for incoming freshmen. We’re still trying to figure out how to balance being a full-time student with contributing to a university that has already given us so much.

It all boils down to this simple fact: We all want to be plugged in. We want to be full-fledged Tigers who earn our stripes by being active members of campus life. We’ve traveled miles, in some cases, to be here and it would be a waste not to engage in our new community.

So some of us sign up for five different clubs, each having a meeting on different days of the week, making it just possible to be at least semi-committed to all of them.

However, going on like this will eventually burn us out. We’ll rush from class to meeting to class, not allowing ourselves a chance to breathe. This lifestyle may have been more common in high school, but this is an entirely new ballgame now and there’s a lot more on the line if over-involvement leads to so much stress that we can hardly function.

Worried, we consider a different approach altogether: staying in our rooms with Crunch Berries and Cheez-Its as our sole lifeline … or is that just me?

Knowing classes are inevitable, we decide to hunker down and turn our backs on the constant invitations to join an organization, keeping Canvas open and our doors closed so that we don’t miss a thing or fall behind.

However, this sort of seclusion could keep us from discovering our true passions, making lifelong friends, meeting our soulmate or just having a genuinely good time. And no one wants that.

So what do we do? How do we even begin to balance the two MU pillars of Responsibility and Discovery?

When in doubt, let your major be your guide

As a freshman still trying to decide if I want to pursue magazine writing, I’ve found myself here. This could be the job that inspires me to take the magazine route or it could be the job that confirms in my mind that I’d rather pursue radio or documentary instead. Only time will tell. Keep in mind that by the end of your four years here, you won’t be graduating with a degree in undecided. If you’re not sure yet, occupy your free time trying an activity that speaks to you and doing so may end up guiding you in the right direction academically.

Only commit to a maximum of two activities for right now

You can add or subtract later, but give yourself some time to adjust to your class schedule so you can accurately gauge how much time you can devote outside of class. Remember, there’s always a second semester if you want to try something new! By then, you should be fairly in the swing of things.

Be all-in

Involvement isn’t fun when you can’t give meaningful attention to your activities. If you’re spread thin, you’ll only gain a fraction of value from something that should genuinely enrich your experience here. Also, your club leaders will be able to notice if you’re half-heartedly participating. If you’re truly passionate about something, let that show during the course of the activity. If you’re too fatigued, you won’t be having any fun; that fatigue may be an indicator that you’re committing yourself to too much.

Don’t feel guilty if you have to turn someone down

It’s recruitment season. Clubs want to see freshmen sign up and give it their all for four years and that’s understandable, but not every activity was built for you. Saying “no” should not weigh so heavily on yourself that you say “yes” to a club that isn’t a good fit. It’s okay to consider yourself first in these cases. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings that much, because every group understands that not everyone will want to be a part. It all comes with the recruitment process. So, be kind to yourself!

Rest is important

Having a free afternoon or evening isn’t a bad thing! Your worth should not be found in your productivity, not the amount of stuff you can do in one day. Breathe. Relax. Being completely booked isn’t healthy. Idleness is not bad. You need to recharge.

Believe me, I’m nervous about missing out on something. I’m also nervous about being dangerously spread thin and stressed out by the end of the semester. But that’s okay. We’re all new at this. And we’re not going to get it perfect on the first try.

Remember that you’re a student first. Work hard and let the activities fall into place as you pursue the things you love. You’re doing great.

Edited by Siena DeBolt | sdebolt@themaneater.com

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