“24/7 – Just not enough”

This thought has constantly come to me in the last 3 weeks at INSEAD.

Throughout my 30 years (Yes, sadly hitting 30 soon), I have had my share of tight deadlines at school to all-nighters in college to high-pressure work. BUT it is definitely a first not wishing just to “get done with the work” rather than lamenting for more time to “savor each experience”.

What do I mean by that? On one hand, I have had the most ridiculously productive 3 weeks of my life:

  • Reached early morning classes everyday, which is an achievement for me, considering I am not a morning person and live an hour away. (I do fight for that seat on the train to catch my sleep.)
  • Literally built a playground with my classmates, where I did a lot of wood drilling, of which I am extremely proud. Although I did break a drill bit.
  • I have survived Microeconomics, reviewed my CV more times than I’ve ever done in my seven years of work, drafted a team contract for organizational behavior, and analyzed financial statements of Apple and ConAgra.
  • I’m close to finishing a wine course, and I just passed my Singapore basic driving test
  • Met a zillion people including entrepreneurs in residence for my venture; did the Ice bucket challenge; made great friends; had a house gathering, a beach outing, and of course, the BIG beach party. Planned my first INSEAD trip to Indonesia and did I mention—I drilled wood!

But I feel strangely having underachieved.

  • I often feel stupid in class, totally relative to the superbly intelligent people around me (Ah… My poor three decades of well-nurtured ego!). The course pace seems to leave me lagging behind always.
  • I missed at least five weekend trips even if I only count the ones I know of with 10+ people
  • I have lost count, but I’ve probably missed a dozen or more get-togethers/parties so far that I am probably in danger of not being on party lists anymore.
  • I only know roughly 80% of my class section by name (usually people who sit in the rows in front of mine, with their name cards visible). Do mind that my section is only a third of all 15Js in Singapore now. Of course, Singapore itself only represents around 40% of all students in INSEAD 15J, if Fonty is included. Talk about the tip of the iceberg.
  • And, of course, my personal friendships outside INSEAD and even husband time have gone for a complete toss.

To tell the truth, it is difficult to explain this to the outside world. My friends and ex-colleagues joke that I no longer need to work and I’m free. Oh! They can’t be further from the truth. This acceptance that we will live in constant FOMO (fear of missing out) and won’t be able to do it all is probably a school secret that only INSEADers understand.

At least I am making progress in some areas. Being an introvert, meeting people has always drained me and I can’t claim (yet) that INSEAD has cured that. Far from it actually, as I still manage to invent excuses to convince myself out of some gatherings. But, there is a difference: Meeting exciting people seems to lessen the extra effort I make to be energetic. At INSEAD, that has been a given as everyone has a story to be told and heard. In fact, I have this idea to start a “Humans of INSEAD” series inspired by HONY (Humans of New York) for the blog.

Again, there is this tiny detail of finding more time in the 24-hour day to allow for that. Well, I think I need not worry as I have come to accept that the concept of a working day always stretches when it is for INSEAD!