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Take Care of Yourself

So the time has come, today is my last day at OUSA. It’s been almost 10 years now since I have graduated from high school and started my undergrad education at the University of Lethbridge (still the best university by the way). I have had so many wonderful experiences and most of all, I have met so many interesting, passionate, and kind people along the way.

Having been a student executive myself at one point, and now having worked for student leaders at an organization like OUSA, I feel that on my way out, I can leave with some advice.

Please, take care of yourselves.

I have seen over the past two and a half years at OUSA how hard our Steering Committee and other student leaders work. They work endless hours, sit on countless committees, and take on far more responsibility than expected - all because they made a promise to their fellow students that they want to make their university a better place.

But, there is always a but. It’s important to take care of yourselves as well. Follow the instructions given to you by your friendly flight attendant: please put on your own mask before assisting anyone else. This goes for student leaders too.

I know you want to finish that thing there, but it’s past 9pm and you should have gone home hours ago.

I know you want to ensure that your event is planned the way you want, but you should have delegated that to your trusty staff weeks ago.

I know you want to show dedication to your students, but you should take your two weeks of vacation. Visit your grandparents, they miss you!

Work life balance is important for everyone, but for most of us, being a student executive is the first time we have a full time job, so it’s the first time we seriously have to think about keeping that balance. It’s a learning curve, but if you can maintain that balance right from your first job, it will be easier for the next job and the one after that.

You can do what I did, you can create some rules for yourself. And most importantly, you’ll have to learn to say no and to delegate. I didn’t answer or look at emails after a certain time in the evening. I would avoid working on the weekends (unless there was a special event or meeting happening).

I know that these are simple little things, and that they are different for everyone. What your guidelines are doesn’t really matter, the most important thing is to follow through on them. Be strict. You might feel like you are being selfish, but overworking yourself for the first half of your term leads you to just burn out by February. It’s better to be a consistent leader for your entire term than it is for you to go MIA for the last three months of your term.

You don’t really have to listen to me if you don’t want, and it’s one of many advices I could give (since I am sooo wise). But I hope you take it to heart, especially those of you who have just gotten elected, and those of you who will be elected over the next few weeks. Your terms will be challenging, sometimes frustrating, but they will be worth it. But again, please take care of yourselves, you can make a difference, but you don’t have to run yourself into the ground for it.