Setting and Maintaining Boundaries

Category Student Voices


College student, Alexa
Alexa Class of '20 Alumni
Authored on October 02, 2018


Hey y'all and welcome back to another semester of (hopeful) life advice with Lex! 

One thing I have been uncomfortable with for most of my life is the idea of letting other people down or feeling like I "quit" something, but I have embraced the power of "no" for the last few months and it has greatly changed the quality of both my life and the self care I provide myself. 

First things first, I have begun setting clear boundaries for the work I am willing to do in spaces, and nonnegotiable things that will cause me to remove myself from any space or group of people. Without hesitation. Without fear of backlash. 100% of the time. It took me a while to get here, but when I realized that I have to make myself my top priority in my life in order to sustain not only myself, but the work I am committing my life to, it put into perspective how intentional I have to be to in self-maintenance.

I felt incredibly burnt out last year because I was dealing with extreme changes in my life in spaces that were not conducive to my growth or giving me leeway to deal with what life was throwing at me, but I felt obligated to them and unable to leave from my commitment to the space. Letting go of that fear of "quitting" is something that has been hard and an incredible work of introspection, but if quitting an organization means saving myself, I will quit, every time. 

Additionally, I have started pouring more effort into things I care about, strategically. My academic workload is intellectually stimulating, I established a great skincare routine for mornings and nights to keep me grounded, I make it a priority to go to the gym, I reach out to friends and express feelings of discomfort and appreciation, and I have somehow managed to establish a work life balance. My laptop does not go into my bedroom, I don't stay up past midnight (most nights, I am still working on the firmness of this), and I will rearrange my schedule to allow myself enough time to get a full night's sleep.

Most importantly, I have surrounded myself with people who unconditionally want the best for me and my mental health. When asked about my Harvard experience, I often say the best part of my time here is the people, and I firmly stand by that. I love the groups and organizations I am apart of and the missions we work towards. I love the work I do, but most importantly, I love myself. 

Specifically, shout out to my friends, they set a strong foundation for the great support system here and I don't know what my college experience would look like without them. They light up my life and promote incredible growth in me as a person. I am forever grateful.


Photograph of author with friends during Black Convocation

Pictured: me and two of my incredibly supportive friends, Najya and Morgan, at Black Convocation

Honestly, making yourself a priority and setting boundaries can feel selfish, it can cause backlash from those used to you overextending yourself, and it can make you feel lost, but it is worth it and it is an essential part of making it through college.

I encourage everyone, no matter where they are in life, to question and solidify the boundaries they have for themselves. You are worth it.

Alexa Class of '20 Alumni

College student, Alexa