Why you should quit: the consequences of overcommitting


C. Sears

Getting involved in your high school is necessary, but loosing yourself in the process is not.

Caroline Sears, Editor in Chief

I remember sitting at the dinner table the night before my first day of high school as my parents warned me about wasting my time and urged me to “get involved”. And while they meant well, I grew to believe that all of my problems could be solved by “getting involved”. I was lonely? Join theatre. I was bored? Start writing for the school newspaper. I wanted to show that I was smart? Try to join the Speech and Debate team.  

Over time, these commitments piled up until I felt obligated to take on leadership roles within them. From starting failed school clubs to forcing myself to join committees I was not genuinely devoted to, I faced burnout with the things that I truly loved. I convinced myself that all of this worry would pay off, after all, it was only four years and I would take a break in June. 

The anxiety I created for myself leached into every aspect of my life. My body felt the effects of it; As the year progressed, I started to forget what it felt like to live without worry.

But this is not an individual experience. Sleep deprivation, headaches, and stomach aches caused by anxiety are far too common within our school and are, oftentimes, met with competition. These ailments are somehow seen as accomplishments. Perhaps it is when someone states that they spent all night studying and unknowingly implies they are working harder than the person who got eight hours of sleep. We are all looking for validation, and I am certainly guilty of this, but these comments only fuel the ongoing competition within our school and society as a whole. Being committed to your studies or extracurriculars should be encouraged, but sacrificing your mental and physical health for it should not be normalized.

And even though I am not the most involved person at this school, I have been surrounded by leaders at Fossil Ridge High School for four years and have noticed a similar trend across every honor society, club, AP class, and committee.

Although I am thankful for the opportunities I was given access to, I wish that all the hours spent at the school working on projects that did not speak to me were instead spent cultivating better relationships with the wonderful people I already had in my life. Perfectionism is an illness, and overachieving appears to be the cure for many. But this dangerous cycle will only leave you exhausted and unsatisfied. 

In an era where mental health seems to be “valued”, it is hard to understand how the perfectionistic mindset has continued to cause so much destruction. But how do we solve this problem? The answer is allowing yourself to quit.

Quitting, or rather stopping before you start, is not the act of treason we think it is.

Perfectionism is an illness, and overachieving appears to be the cure for many. But this dangerous cycle will only leave you exhausted and unsatisfied. 

This word has such a negative connotation that implies laziness, but what is even more destructive is abandoning your responsibilities yet keeping your title. It is better to give your all to what you care about than to push yourself past your limits just to say that you are involved.

During Make-A-Wish week this year, I felt empty. Yes, I would attend all of the meetings and help out where I was told to, but my passion was misguided. Although our hard work ultimately succeeded in benefiting the Make-A-Wish foundation, I could not stop obsessing over ways our events could have drawn more people in or made our school more money. 

I am not saying we should all renounce our responsibilities immediately, but I ask you all to seriously consider your priorities before devoting your time and mental energy to something. If you genuinely care about something you are a part of, you will be motivated to continue improving at it and it will refresh you, not drain you. 

It is incredibly rewarding to be involved within the school, but the purpose of being involved is to improve your mental health through new friendships and challenges, not to take away your peace. 

When I am working with my friends backstage, I feel energized. That long list of things I need to do does not feel like a punishment, but rather a worthwhile challenge. When the curtains finally closed on the spring musical, Legally Blonde, I felt satisfaction for one second—Before my worry about other things flooded my brain once again. I desperately wish I would have reconsidered my priorities before this year, as now, a few days away from graduation, I feel no sense of closure.

This important distinction can only be learned through experience, but I urge you all to reflect upon what you give your time to, and perhaps rethink before you commit to things for the upcoming year.