One time I went to one of those college events with free food, you know the kind.
As I was standing in line, I saw someone putting literally every offering available on a plate.
I felt like I could see the future: plate giving way under the immense weight of chicken tenders and the free bounty crashing to the floor.
Yet, to my surprise, the person walked away and made it to a table, food and plate unscathed.
I wondered to myself, “how could they possibly manage it all?”
We all have something on our metaphorical plate: a job, a relationship, schoolwork, financial stress and who knows what else. For the most part, we all manage our plates, admittedly some better than others.
Some people have ceramic plates, strong and sturdy and can seemingly handle anything that is thrown on it.
Others have flimsy paper ones and not even the name-brand kind.
I imagine I’m somewhere in between, holding a plate of sturdy Styrofoam.
However, unlike the person I saw that day who carefully chose to overload their plate, I do so with reckless abandon. I can’t say no to anything.
So, I end up with a hodgepodge of everything including the foods I don’t like.
One day I hope to upgrade myself to a compartmentalized Styrofoam plate, allowing me to tackle things one by one instead of hacking away at a growing pile.
Eventually, I want to be able to eat the one thing I really enjoy, and nothing else. I satisfy myself thinking about all the things I don’t like as necessary rites of passage to achieving my goal.
Above all, however, I want to be able to carefully consider my options before agreeing to anything.
When we take everything and anything available to us, we forget to savor that which we truly enjoy.
As young people, we’re told we need to take advantage of every beneficial opportunity given to us.
After all, who knows when our next big opportunity will come? What if this is our last chance?
I’m here to tell you that there will be opportunities later.
To continue the metaphor, this isn’t the last college event with free food.
There will be plenty of chances to fill your plate.
Next time you find yourself in a “buffet line,” review what you are given.
Look inside yourself and assess what you can handle. Maybe that class would be fun, or the internship would be a great experience, but can you handle it?
And if you can handle it, can you handle it well?
After all, maybe you can fit everything in, but you sacrifice relationships and sleep, or you miss out on something that made you happy.
We are often fed the line that professional success is a first priority, but that isn’t always true. The things that sustain you and make you happy rank the highest. Choose those above all else.
Life and giant mountains of food are a balancing act.
Too much and it topples to the floor, too little and we aren’t fulfilled. Find your balance and use it to your advantage.