I like to think of myself as a pretty busy person yet I still end up sacrificing some parts of my life to focus on others. Anuja Jeeva seems to manage it all. You’ve probably heard of her, or know people like her, at least. Go ahead, I dare you, check for mutual friends… She’s in President Mohamed Lachemi’s circle, has met Laverne Cox, Jagmeet Singh, John Tory, and the Prime Minister himself, Justin Trudeau. Her latest venture was organizing an event with Toronto poet Rupi Kaur. “I have 3 pages in 11 point font and I am just happy to take retail off,” she told me when I asked how she fit all of this on her resume. I caught up with her to ask just what this soon-to-be sociology alumni was up to now.
“Getting to a place where I am satisfied with my involvement,” she said, “required a lot of work”. Anuja started working with the Ryerson Student’s Union in multiple positions in her early years at Ryerson and then seemed to branch out into faculty oriented roles to eventually venture into student lead initiatives as well. “I feel like I am continuously struggling with Imposter Syndrome— a phenomenon where when faced with a new position, a person constantly doubts themselves and their decisions. You just really have to trust in your vision and I think everyone experiences [imposter syndrome] it to some degree”.
Anuja explained that “Yes, we’re all students, but that’s not all that we are. When we tick the “student” box on applications and profiles, we have to remember that that’s not the only story we are a part of. The rhetoric of ‘student’ often associates itself with the stigma of being considered ‘unprofessional’ or ‘amateur’. But the skills you earn here in university, being a part of extracurriculars, are what get you on the path to be a professional. There are only a handful of tasks in the world that are less stressful than balancing 5 courses, 4 hours of commuting a day, 3 ongoing group projects, 2 extracurriculars, and a job.”
Upon meeting Anuja a couple of years ago, I had no idea I’d be aspired to also want to leave a legacy behind. That’s the thing with friends like Anuja, they make you want to be a part of something bigger, to challenge yourself a little bit more. I asked her, as I’m sure you’re wondering, whether it is difficult balancing a social life amid all your commitments.
“How do I balance my personal life? A lot of my friends are highly motivated folks, to be able to be on their level also pushes me. I sometimes have study dates with friends I work with. So the lines are blurred between personal, academic, and professional life”. So the answer is no, she doesn’t balance everything and that’s not necessarily something to be proud of, as Anuja also reiterated: too much coffee and lack of sleep are not to be put on a pedestal. “And to be honest, I could be doing better in school, but hey, I’m graduating, so I’m doing something right.”
Friends like Anuja come with other advantages too. I get to attend sold-out events behind my media pass, which leads to writing stories (like this one), and as a lovely bonus, I get to meet other amazing people who constantly lead me to diverse opportunities. They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so surrounding yourself with high-performers can enhance your own drive.
Anuja’s advice for others is to invest time in applying for scholarships as motivation to keep doing what you do. She said “if you’re committed to bringing positive change onto campus, you might as well be acknowledged for you work”– a mantra that I will be downloading as my ringtone.
The Dennis Mock Student Leadership Award recipient showcased the idea that doing what you do should not be a reason to be better than others, “because not everyone works like that”. I sure as heck don’t, but I make up for it in other areas of my life. She insisted that “different people have different priorities”, and that she’s “involved because it makes [her] happy and your happy might be another ideal which is to be celebrated as well”.
In a world of 7 billion people, no matter what, there is always going to be someone “higher” than you; getting a better grade, driving a better car, getting a better job; but that’s what makes it worth it – to know you probably could, but you’re happy now, so, maybe later.
Do you have friends in high places? Let me first start by explaining what having a friend in a high place means: they’re the ones that do things and know people, like my friend who is quickly becoming a role model, Anuja.
How to know if your friend (or you!) are a high-achiever like Anuja:
- They have selfies with culturally woke famous people you have to Google to know;
- You get constant Facebook invites to events they’ve helped plan and organize;
- They don’t have a Wikipedia page (yet) but are extremely searchable;
- You feel like you’re with a celebrity when you’re walking with them on campus because every five seconds there is someone saying ‘hi’ and interrupting your conversations;
- They probably have 1,000 friends on Facebook, including professors, and probably a network of 10,000 in real life;
- You probably knew them before they knew you;
- Because you know them, you start being mutuals with their “friends in high places” too;
- They live and breathe Ryerson (and how to make it better).
Tell us your secrets for being a high-achiever, or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org for a spotlight of your own!