For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Feb 15 2016
by Olivia Ray Laskowski

How to Quit

By Olivia Ray Laskowski - Feb 15 2016

If you're anything like me, you are on approximately 15 different club email lists. Even though you only attend a few of these clubs, you're just over-committed enough to feel frazzled trying to make it to different events, and more often than not you're forced to choose between things scheduled at the same time. It is much better to be over-involved than under-involved, especially freshman year. Even though you may have spread yourself a little thin, nearing the end of this second semester is the perfect time to slim down your commitments and throw yourself 100% into the things you really love, instead of just 40% into a bunch of stuff that is sorta fine. 

The first part of quitting some things is deciding what to quit. It's important to take a look at everything that is an optional time commitment for you and to analyze your priorities. I urge you to take the time to think about how much extra time you have in a day or week after your necessary commitments. Take a 24 hour day, and subtract the time on average that you spend sleeping, getting dressed and undressed, eating, and in class. Make sure to take as many of your non-negotiable things out to get a good figure on how much free time you actually have.

After you've got a grasp on your usable day time, it's time to subtract out necessary but optional items like social time, studying, working if you've got a job, etc. Take some time to think about how much time you want to dedicate to each, and then you'll be left with the time you actually have for extra commitments. To tackle those, and to really get to the "how to quit" part, you need to list out all of your commitments. After you've done so, you need to ask yourself some questions about that activity and process whether what you're getting more out of it by doing it is worth the time and effort you put in. 

Ask yourself.. 

1. Does this activity benefit me socially, professionally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, academically or otherwise?

2. If so, is the benefit I'm getting from it enough to justify the commitment of time and effort?

3. Do I get excited about being involved in this activity?

4. Does this activity make me happy?

5. Is this activity good for my resume?

6. Does this activity give opportunities for growth, mentorship or leadership?

If you answered no to more than half of these, you should probably quit. If your activity satisfies 3 or more of these, as most will, it is probably worth keeping. Best practice is to choose the activities that satisfy the most of these, work with your schedule, and compliment your long-term goals and aspirations. 

Then, how to quit things.. 

There are a lot of ways to go about quitting the things you're involved with. Depending on the activity, quitting can be as simple as just not showing up anymore to filling out formal paperwork to drop the activity. However, there are some strategies to employ and things to keep in mind no matter how serious or easy leaving the activity is. 

If they'll notice you're missing, it's better to say something before they do. Let them know that you won't be able to make it anymore, that your contributions will stop or that you won't be around in the most polite way possible. Even just a casual mention will go a long way with people and avoid making you seem like the person who quits without a word. 

Make it clear why you're quitting in a nice way, even if you have to make it up.  Whether the truth is that you think it's a waste of time, just not that important, or don't like the people involved-- these are not good reasons to cite as why you're quitting. Put it in a light that makes them feel good about your choice. Let them know that you don't feel like you can make the appropriate commitment of time or effort, and that you value the organization enough to not give them the effort they deserve, even if you actually just hate them and want to get out of it.

See what options there are to join later.  Sometimes the timing of being in an organization isn't right. This year you might not have the time for a certain sports team or sorority, but later on your schedule may be a better fit for the activity if you really enjoy it. Ask people in the activity how you can stay updated and when would be a good time to re-join in the future. 

Ask to attend future events and to stay on the mailing list. Sometimes you don't want to be all in with the weekly or biweekly commitments of an organization but definitely want to go to their events or join them for volunteer activities. Ask them how to stay in the know about their activities and events, and let them know you're interested in supporting them in what they do. 

And what to do after you quit..

Actually stay involved and go to events if you said you wanted to. Especially if it's an organization you're interested in re-joining, it's crucial to keep the goodwill between you and the group's members. Even if you don't want to come back, it's never good to have animosity from a group just because you couldn't make it a priority. Supporting the future endeavors of groups you were involved with is a great way to support your own interests, keep campus life active, and keep connections open for the future. 

Throw yourself 100% or as much as you can into the organizations you're involved in. There really is a lot less value to spending any time or effort for a group if you aren't going to get as much out of it as you can. If you're in a sorority, go to the events and fundraisers. Get to know everyone. For sports, attend practices and be the best you can. For publications, write as much as you can and build a portfolio. You can only get out of your commitments what you put into them, so put in as much as you can. 

Join something new. If after dropping your time commitments you don't have a full slew of things to do still, it might be time to switch it up. If the clubs and activities you were previously doing felt blah, it might be time to go for something outside of your comfort zone. With your hobbies, major, talents and long-term goals in mind, think about organizations that will both be fun and enrich your college experience.

Happy quitting!

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Olivia Ray Laskowski - Northeastern University

Olivia Laskowski is a rising Sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in International Business and German, minoring in Economics and Global Fashion Studies. She is the editor in chief and founder of Fresh U Northeastern. In high school, she was an exchange student in Frankfurt, and she is currently studying abroad at the London School of Economics. She enjoys drinking coffee, walking aimlessly through cities and owning too many tote bags. Follow her on Instagram @o.ray or check out her website!

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