To anyone who has ever felt like “AND is [not] in [their] DNA:”
Let me just start here with a disclaimer: I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with pursuing multiple, seemingly unexpected passions. As someone who decided to double-major with journalism later in my academic career and who juggled so many clubs that people would often remark that it sounded like I was participating in the same activities that I did since high school, I know that it may sound a bit hypocritical for me to offer this advice. However, I think that there’s no one who understands “AND is in our DNA” and the lessons that can be reaped from it than a serial over-committer.
While phrases like “taking a Northwestern direction,” “creat[ing] your own route” and “digging for the shots and the story” may initially seem alluring, if there’s one thing that I have learned during my time at Northwestern, it’s that sometimes, having AND in my DNA is not worth it.
I have seen the “live cry” posts in the “Northwestern places i’ve cried” Facebook group, I have heard of the breakdowns and I have seen the D1 athletes slump like Atlas and cry in hallways because they forget that today was the day of their class presentation.
So, for whoever needs to hear it, I will say: It’s OK if AND is not in your DNA.
Northwestern’s rigor and prestige can sometimes get the best of us, but it doesn’t have to. Leadership and involvement are all admirable and important things, should you be genuinely happy in their pursuit, but remember that everything should be enjoyed in moderation.
It is OK to miss class if you genuinely need to. It is OK to cry, even if it feels embarrassing or happens in a professor’s office (trust me, dear reader, you are not the first student to have done this). It is OK to come late because you are exhausted or took longer to will yourself from bed. It is OK to say no to opportunities, leadership positions and additional responsibilities. It is OK to take care of yourself, even if it means canceling your plans. It is OK to drop a class, to change your major, add another major and drop those minors that you thought would be the end of the world. It is OK to ask for help. It is OK if you mess up on an exam. It is OK for you to turn in an assignment that is imperfect, or even not your best. Because sometimes our best is not worth it, and we need to prioritize taking care of ourselves.
Take care, and take heart in knowing that AND need not be in your DNA, and that is OK.