With the pressure of working for grades, SATs, IELTS or TOEFL, and college applications, participating in extracurricular activities can seem almost impossible. And why even bother, right? But, extracurricular can become an important part of our lives, and with good reason.
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But, first, we need to recognize that quality is important. While it’s great to be able to do many things, dipping our feet in many pools right from the start isn’t going to help. I think that we need to try out a few things first. And when we find something we’re good at, it’s time to dive right in!
That said, there is a common myth that we should only do one or two things. If we can ace 10 extracurricular activities, then why not?! It’s not about the number of things that we do, but about how well we do them. That depends on how much time and effort we’re willing to invest in pursuing a passion and developing a skill.
Third, we need to stop doing things to impress others. Personally, I’ve found that I am only good at things that I enjoy doing, things that I want to do for my own satisfaction. In school, we already have so many compulsory activities. An extracurricular activity is our one true chance to embrace our passions. Why should it be another piece of work when it can be a break from all the work?
It’s amazing how much extracurricular activities can teach us.
I used to play chess. What began as a game played during lunch breaks led to me participating in the World Youth Chess Championships. That too in 3 different countries! Not only did I enjoy this journey, but I learnt much that helps me even today. Even after I am no longer playing competitively.
Chess taught me about strategy, tactics and problem-solving. It taught me about fixing my mistakes and not repeating them; it taught me about keeping calm under pressure; most of all, it taught me about winning and losing. Chess has helped me to embrace that I can’t give up if I lose, or stop pushing if I win. A learning that has helped me keep a steady head through the ups and downs as I make my way towards senior year and graduation.
In the end, I’d like to say - let’s not give up extracurricular activities because they seem difficult. If we can just push ourselves, the result can be so very rewarding! But, we should not push ourselves into doing something we don’t particularly like, just because it might look good on a college application, or because our friends are doing it.
Let’s do what we like. And let’s do it well! Extracurricular activities are how we can have fun with, and embrace the entire experience of, being students. They cannot only help us to reach our destination, but also to enjoy the journey.