JinJin Zhou, MBA Class of 2016

Before we begin, I admit a certain feeling of sheer hilarity and ridicule in this moment as I input these words onto my desktop. The irony in me, of all people, offering up anecdotes and advice about living in moderation and being well adjusted in one’s MBA journey seems like dark, twisted comedy of a sort to defy all logical explanation.

Yet as my father once explained to me as a child, “Only the burnt can speak to what fire truly feels like.” And as someone who’s been through what can only be charitably described as a nine-year long caffeine-induced haze that still leaves repercussions to this day, I can attest to what living on the ragged edge can be.

So here are some tips, from both personal experience and from fellow MBAs, about how to handle the sheer amount of things being thrown at you without resorting to putting a Monster IV directly into your carotid artery:

-Don’t feel like you have to do everything. Seriously, don’t. As much as you will want to go to every corporate presentation that interests you, every beer blast, every social event, every impromptu gathering or panel that excites you, don’t try it. You’ll burn yourself out running around so much that you will lose any enjoyment or knowledge you would normally get from these experiences. Prioritize what is truly important to you and if you think everything’s important to you, don’t be afraid to grab a friend and help sort things out. Speaking of which…

-Have people who’ll stick with you to kingdom come. One of the great things about being an MBA is that we have the collective resources of so many other peers to bounce ideas off of and communicate with, both on a personal and a professional level. Find at least one (and preferably more), however, that you can be fully honest with and who will reciprocate your trust and honesty. There’s drinking buddies to whoop it up with during Happy Hour or sit around chatting with, but when you need someone to give you honest, no-BS advice and be there for you to cross the damn Rubicon, have a contact. Preferably more than one.

-Save your drinking for when it matters. Again, I recognize the sheer irony of me making this statement, given that I’m basically a walking Fireball ad, but it’s true. Drinks are great to have, but have too many of them and they start to lose meaning and purpose. Have a shot or two to celebrate, to relax, to mingle-but don’t just drink because you feel like you’re obligated to (or if some annoying idiot is pushing a Fireball in your face. Wait…)

-Find an everyday way to vent. There is not a single person at Stern or in life that doesn’t deal with stress, anxiety, frustration, and the sheer grind of day-to-day life, but not all of us have a way to let it out effectively. After all, we can’t be frolicking across Southeast Asia, Brazil, or Africa every other weekend. So find a simple way to relieve stress and smile a bit that is accessible each week. Maybe it’s a list of recipes that you want to try out. Or a two-hour walk with T-Swift on repeat along the Brooklyn waterfront. It can even be as simple as grabbing a friend and telling horrible puns for a while and watching their pained reactions-just have something that is easy to do, and which can help reset your stress and your mood. (By the way-why did I stand in the corner when it was cold? Because a corner is 90 degrees)

-Last of all: Don’t forget what got you here. Humility and self-awareness are great attributes to have, and crucial towards being a well-rounded, pleasant person overall. But sometimes, we need to just glare at ourselves in the mirror and say, in the words of a good friend of mine, “I’m a goddamn delight.” Maybe it’s intelligence. Maybe it’s personality. Maybe it’s sheer stubborn will or a great story or any number of other reasons that we were given the cards to swipe into KMC out of many who applied. But don’t forget how special you are as a person, and how special you had to be to get to here of all places. Reflect on the strengths, the experiences, and the people who built you from the ground up, and take pride in who you are and what you are yet to unleash upon this unsuspecting world.

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