Q: Why haven’t you been blogging, Ryan?
A: I’m overcommitted.
Q: Can’t you be less of an overachiever? If you fail a few people, people will stop asking you to do things.
A: Being overcommited and being an overachiever are different.
I am busy. But because I want to be. In high school meeting with the Dean of Students sophomore year, he couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into: 7 classes, an independent study, a musical, P.E., an outside chorus, and laying out the school newspaper. He commented, “some people function better when they’re busy.” I am one of those people. It’s not that I don’t enjoy lounging around and kickin’ it with friends. No, it’s that I have a fundamental drive for productivity.
So, yes, I am overcommitted. But I am not an overachiever. How so? Overachievers (see link above) are doing things for another item on their resume or maybe just to get attention. Unfortunately, most things I do outside class are resume un-worthy and, to my chagrin, I don’t get famous at Middlebury by running MiddBlog.
In many ways, life for me is about juggling things. I’ve grown up juggling soccer practice and tuba lessons as many in Generation Millenial have. Why do you think getting into college is hard now? The question is what a esteemed friend of mine said the other day, “what are you overcommitted to?” And in that respect, I really should be going to go improve the world but instead I focus on improving my local community at Middlebury.
In a way, though, I am selfish. For every thing I take on, I give a little less to each other thing already on my plate. That is unfair to those who commit passionately to one thing while you’re there less than 100%. I know what is like to be of a single mind focused on a goal intently for a long period of time. My work in China taught me that, and it was rewarding. But most of life is a balance, a juggling of a lot things: work, friends, love, being alone. Even within a focused effort, you must balance so much. And very rarely (I’ve experienced it maybe once) do you find a group of people who have the exact same commitment structure. When you do find a group as such, the work they do is extraordinary, beautiful. The rest of the time, though, life is about weighing commitments, priorities. Not everyone lines up, so first do the best with what you have. Doesn’t mean that you should sit on your hands. Because, second, find the potential in others to lead them according to your vision. If you’re a good leader, their commitments will shift toward yours.