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Serial Joiner

Exploring struggles of juggling multiple student organizations


A lot of people often ask how I have time for seven student organizations, being a full-time senior in college, working a part-time job and maintaining my social life. The honest answer is, I don’t. I have at least one mental breakdown every week.

Aside from the occasional meltdowns, I, unfortunately, have to put on my big girl panties and suck it up for the rest of the week. Though these organizations keep me pretty busy, the passion I have for what I do really keeps me going.

Being organized and knowing how to prioritize my time helps balance everything in my life. I discovered the beauty of this thing called a planner. This marvelous invention is something that I recommend to everyone. Not only does it keep me informed about upcoming tasks and events, it also reminds me of what I need to do — like my own personal conscience. I read my planner like evangelicals read the Bible.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising gives me the energy to keep up with my schedule. While tempting, I try to steer clear from consuming unhealthy fast or processed foods. Eating healthy boosts my energy throughout the day, decreasing fatigue. Exercising releases endorphins, which is a hormone that fights off stress. One should exercise at least four times a week, for at least 30 minutes a session. My best friend, who is also my roommate, is a dietician, so she keeps me inspired when it comes to healthy food intake and exercising.

Though being organized and having a healthy lifestyle keep me functioning efficiently, I do the things I do because I have great passion for them. Being a first-generation college student, I take my education seriously because my family didn’t have my opportunities. I want my family to be proud of me. Knowing I have been provided with these amazing opportunities, to be a student and a leader in college, motivates me to seize my moment.

Really, that’s why I do so much — I owe it to my family, and to myself, to take advantage of every opportunity.

I wasn’t always the outspoken leader I am today. Back in high school, I was what society calls a ‘homebody.’ I didn’t do much besides go to class and then go straight home. Public speaking terrified me. My shyness kept me hidden from my high school peers, and I preferred it that way.

While it was cozy staying in my comfort zone, my ignorance was a detriment. I didn’t apply for college until halfway through my senior year. Figuring out college applications and student loans without any guidance was a challenge. I ended up applying for college late, and without any real guidance — coupled with test anxiety — my SAT score was so low, Lamar rejected me.

Getting that rejection letter was a heart-sinking feeling, but that didn’t stop me from trying. One of my high school teachers suggested I take the ACT, and I did well enough to get in.

I have never disclosed this to anyone before, because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want people to think less of me, especially my family.

I’m a big believer in the concept of, “Everything happens for a reason,” and my initial rejection motivated me. I decided I would put forth my best effort to succeed in college.

My first semester, I wanted to get really involved, and so I joined Greek life. This was a big step for me because I was an extreme introvert. Little did I know, joining Greek life would change my life drastically — and for the better.

Since then, doors after doors of opportunity have opened up for me. I slowly grew from my buried seed of comfort and bloomed into the world of knowledge. I gained leadership skills, life skills, made genuine connections and experienced new things.

The more I learned and got involved, the more I wanted to do. That’s why I’m so busy all the time.

I have had to change in my car during a red light or at a train stop because I didn’t have time to go home and change between events. Imagine changing out of jeans into an evening dress, and praying that the train goes by as slow as possible, so I could finish changing. I tried so hard to be discreet because I was scared of flashing other people, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.

Or, that one time that I had forgotten to make an agenda, and I did it in two minutes prior to the meeting. I had just gotten off of work and was heading towards an organizational meeting when I got a text from the president about the agenda. There I was, halfway to the meeting, mortified that I had completely forgotten about them. I hauled ass back to my office so fast that I got whiplash. But I ended up making it on time, and everyone got their agenda.

I definitely remember those days where I had to stay on campus from dawn until dusk, resulting in naptimes in the breakroom, or dozing off and drooling on my desk at work.

Despite my busy schedule, I do the things that I do because I genuinely enjoy doing them. So when people want to know how I balance all of the things in my life while staying sane, the answer I want to give them is — I don’t. I’m human, and I get tired as hell doing all of these things, but the memories that I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve learned are one of a kind. Though I’m exhausted, my heart is happy.

My advice is to start somewhere, anywhere. I didn’t throw myself into seven organizations all at once in my first year of college. I slowly built my way up to where I am right now.

As someone famous once said, maybe Beyoncé, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” Make your college experience worthwhile because four years go by lightning fast. Even if you’re bone-tired, at least you’ll gain new skills, build relationships and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Story and graphic by Vy Nguyen

Category: UPbeat