One thing that today’s session highlighted for me was just how difficult I find it to say ‘No’. This results in my becoming involved in many different projects – spreading my resources thinly, leading to an overall net loss in effectiveness.

I’ve been trying hard to say No more often. In meetings, where volunteers are called for, I’ve started keeping quiet, instead of feeling bad that this person is going to have to do whatever it is by themselves. I’ve got my commitments, it’s not an act of selfishness, it’s pragmatism.

The real trouble starts though when it’s things I really want to do. Take for example my postcard business. This is something I would love to start (more for a sense of personal satisfaction than to make money), and here is Sheffield, if you have a business idea you’ll find start-up funds being thrown at you left right and centre (some of which we’ve already been beneficiaries of). Once I graduate and leave Sheffield these opportunities will pass – would it be stupid for me to not take advantage of them while I can?

Perhaps if I had no other goals that were more important to me than (for example) my postcard business, then yes, I think it would be. But of course, I do have other goals, the most importnat one being obtaining a degree in Japanese Studies. I really do feel like I’m on a knife edge with this one. My kanji recognition is very poor, as are my speaking skills (at least in the classroom. I’m fine afterwards having daily conversations. My listening skills are good too). My range of vocab has plummeted; I find this somewhat worrying.

So when a friend of mine from Bristol phones up tonight, tremendously excited with a business idea that also appeals to me, I feel bad. I really want to say yes – after all, if we don’t seize the moment it will pass! – but no, I don’t want to do that as much as I want to succeed in my degree course. It hurts doing so, but I force myself to not voice enthusiasm when it comes to discussing my part in things. I can’t live my life for other people! They would never expect me to in any case. They’ll be just fine without me. They always have been, they always will be. Yes, maybe I am missing the opportunity of a lifetime, but they’ll be plenty more.

The battle between living for today and making adequate provisions for the future is a vicious one, and not one that I enjoy.

But, my decision has been made. This year it’s my degree that takes priority. I must work hard to not feel guilty about letting others down, and to not make myself feel that I’m ‘wasting’ my university years by studying. This is what I came here to do. I just have to do it.