Extra-curricular or extra-stress: 5 tips on choosing suitable activities
Extra-curriculars. Whether it be in high school, university, or during the summer breaks, we are encouraged to get involved in something… anything. Oftentimes, students become overwhelmed by joining as many clubs as possible. But remember, the point isn’t to put yourself everywhere, it’s to embrace your interests and release your creative spirit! If you feel like you are being called out, this is your sign to prioritize quality over quantity. Just because you're doing a lot doesn't mean you're effectively showcasing your range of skills and hobbies.
Some of you might be wondering, how do we even know what to get involved in? Well, the truth is each and every one of us is unique. We may have similar goals in life, but your set of activities should be chosen to reflect you. The type of person you are, your interests, and the people you enjoy surrounding yourself with. Here are 5 tips when it comes to choosing extracurricular activities that are most suitable for you.
1. What is your personality like?
Let’s first begin by determining your personality type. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or mix of both? If you’re an extrovert, you may enjoy leadership roles where your enthusiasm can radiate to all team members. If you’re an introvert you may prefer working independently such as blogging, reading, or creative designing. It’s important to choose activities that align with the way you think, feel and behave. For example, if you're someone like me who enjoys working with children, you might value education and child health. So my advice would be to take a minute to really think about your goals, and what would best correspond with your core values.
BONUS if you are stuck, take this personality test that provides a great snapshot of who you are!
2. What do you enjoy doing?
In general, whatever you want to do outside of school should be something you enjoy doing. Since much of your schoolwork is allocated rather than chosen, take advantage of the freedom to choose your activities outside of school. Getting interested in something you love is an excellent way to pursue a hobby or interest. You will gain valuable experience and skills if you engage in the same activity over a long period of time. You may even be able to progress to a place of leadership and look back to see how far you’ve come. Some examples of extracurricular activities could be academically focussed such as Neuroscience Society, taking part in research, or a book club. Other activities could be more leisure-based such as swimming, cooking, or painting.
3. What do you want to improve?
Close your eyes. Forget about all the exams, assignments, and labs coming up. Clear your mind and identify areas you want to improve in. After you have done that, set goals for yourself on how you plan to tackle those areas. For instance, if you want to gain more confidence it would be a good idea to go outside the comfort zone and join activities that strengthen your assertiveness. Another example could simply be getting into shape. Maybe joining a sports team or taking part in martial arts would be a good way to improve your physical activity levels. This way you're getting involved in an activity outside of school while also working on self-improvement. It’s a win-win situation!
4. How does this activity benefit others?
Finally, think about how your extracurricular activities will help you give back to your community. Many clubs find ways to add a service aspect even though you are not directly involved in a service project. At the end of the day, extracurricular activities are a privilege, not a necessity. Not everyone has the freedom to choose how they spend their time outside of school, and many students lack the financial resources to engage in the activities they desire. This is something to keep in mind when you choose your extracurricular activities. Is there a way for you to contribute to your community? Some examples include coaching, tutoring, being on a council, the list goes on! Choose the ones that most resonate with you and that you believe will have the greatest impact on those around you.
5. How much is too much?
Make an attempt not to become burdened by extracurricular activities. Outside of your academic work, they should be fun pursuits that you look forward to as a way to refresh, relax, and reconnect. To get the most out of your experience, look for things that you enjoy, that urge you to step out of your comfort zone, and that give back to the community. Remember that making connections is crucial when it comes to getting involved. It could be professors, TAs, or even your own friends, always reach out to those around you. The last thought I would like you to ponder is balance. I'm sure we can all relate when I say maintaining a healthy balance between university, family, extra-curricular activities are easier said than done. Some days it can become overwhelming and that’s okay! In fact, it’s completely normal. We all need to make sure we can handle the pressure we put on ourselves and take breaks if necessary. After all, we are just students trying to make the most out of our lives, not robots!
By Amal Khan - LSS 2nd Year Rep 2020 - 2021