Sophomore Slump

Too Much on Your Plate

todayDecember 7, 2022 4

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“Always say ‘yes’ to any opportunity you get.” “You miss all the shots you don’t take.” “Go through the door before it closes.” That advice has been plastered everywhere: from my parents to career advice conferences to that motivational poster with the cat saying “hang in there.” It is a mentality I have adopted and have thrived because of it. Letting my curiosity take me for a joyride and step down on the gas through any opportunity. But eventually, we will run out of gas.

I have always considered myself to be almost too ambitious. There are a lot of things I want to be good at, and a lot of things I want to accomplish. And that mentality has gotten me into a lot of problems. And with too much to cook, I leave many unfinished projects on the back-burner. Then needing more back-burners for those back-burners, all simultaneously simmering and draining all my brain fuel. Not to mention the eventual brain fire that erupts as the back-burners start piling on top of each other. To the point that once the deadline approaches, you are staring at raw assignments that are all still moo-ing on my farm of back-burners. 

This year, I found myself wanting to keep myself busy. I took eighteen credit hours, joined the student advisory board, tackled even more personal projects, and offered to help with my friends’ assignments. I did not know if I was overconfident or wanted to learn more or just help others, but eventually I was staring at unfinished project after project. And as deadlines approached, I had to juggle all of them at once. But, I was down for a challenge, and I managed. But when you are cutting it that close with both time and mental fortitude, it only takes the weakest link snapping for everything to come tumbling down. And for me, it was more than just one link that snapped. 

One minute it is a project I spent hours on corrupting and losing all progress. Another minute it is my cherished desktop computer breaking and going out of commission for several weeks. And so on. One after another, everything was crashing down. And eventually, I broke down as well. I saw myself growing more apathetic with each week, seeing only constant failure for the quality I promised myself and others to accomplish. I was mentally devastated to the point of me refusing to sleep or eat for over 24 hours straight. 

But the projects aren’t going to finish themselves. And I kept forcing myself to drag my withered mental state along to the finish line. These were all things I was passionate about and wanted to complete at the utmost quality. But like anything you enjoy, too much of something good can quickly become overwhelming and a nightmare.

And after so long, I finally accepted that I have pushed myself too far. I was becoming less like myself and needed a reset. But I still felt like a failure, especially when I had to approach my friends or professors and say I couldn’t finish what I promised them to do. But fortunately, they understood. And they helped get me back up on my feet and reinvigorate that passion I lost.

We all want to reach our goals as soon as possible. Because they are our dreams that we are willing to work as hard as possible to get. And opportunities are a great way to do that. But we all have our limits. And if you let that ambition push you too hard, we begin to break down. We are all human. And we need some breathing room because of it. And giving some more time for you now can give you better opportunities for the future. Even after such a turbulent semester, I finally cleaned up my plate and gave myself a fresh start and a clear mind. And eventually, I was given the opportunity to travel to LA with a bunch of my friends and professors for a film and technology festival. So keep chasing your dreams; keep saying yes to opportunities. But a better mental now will make a better you in the future.

Written by: Jacob Jeng

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