By Jake Berg

“I’m so busy.” We hear it all the time, and most of us have said it. Sometimes, it’s an excuse. You show up late to a group meeting, or forget to call your friend, and you utter the words. Other times, you’re just venting: “Oh my god, I have a million things to do right now. I’m just so busy. I can’t.” And then, there’s the cardinal sin – a suggestion is made (“You should watch House of Cards! You would totally love it!”) and you respond: “Oh, I would, but I’m just too busy.”

Look, I get it. You’re busy, you’re stressed, and you want us to know about it. I understand – truly I do, but everyone has downtime, and we decide how to spend it. Some of us watch House of Cards, some of us do not. Some of us go to Rentes, some of us do not. But we all do something unrelated to school or work, so why be dismissive? When a show is suggested, it’s so easy to respond: “Really? What is it about? Why do you think I’d like it?” A response like this conveys openness and warmth, and continues a conversation as opposed to shutting it down. You communicate kindness, not condescension.

Communication is a tool that we can use to reach our goals. By communicating effectively, we can control how we’re perceived. By being open and disclosive, we endear ourselves to others. We build relationships and set ourselves up for opportunities and experiences, but we also do another thing: we prophesy realities.

“I’m going to ace this.” “This is going to be fine.” We whisper these affirmations – but why? It is because we all know the power of a positive mindset. We know we can do better when we tell ourselves we will. Obviously, a simple statement cannot make something true, but there’s a power to speech that should not be forgotten. For better or worse, we speak our future into existence. Whether or not we reach our goals is based largely on what we say – as well as how we say it.

This considered, is ranting about you stress really in your best interest? What benefit is reaped from telling others that you “can’t?” No one likes a complainer, and complainers are rarely happy. By harping on your stress, your stress will only grow.

Of course, stress is inevitable. As a college student, you are busy. It’s fine to acknowledge it, but it’s important to stay cognizant – cognizant of the fact we are students by choice. That we are involved with clubs on campus because we choose to be involved. That our internships are opportunities we sought out, pursued, and accepted. Our schedules did not happen to us; they were made with our consent and though it may feel like you’re the busiest person ever, you are not. I promise.

Again, feeling stressed and overwhelmed is absolutely normal, and absolutely warranted. Also normal and warranted is the desire to air these grievances – to have our voices heard, our achievements praised, and our anxieties consoled. In times of self-doubt, we long for validation, but sometimes, the best thing to do – for your sake and for others’ – is face your schedule head-on: no complaints, no excuses, no self-pity or self-congratulating – just do it. Be active, not reactive. Be present, not pretentious. If you live out your schedule instead of musing about it, you’ll become more likeable, more productive, and yes…. less busy.