The importance of balance

I often am overambitious. Sure, it’s good to have high expectations for yourself, but if you fill your plate with too many commitments and responsibilities, crashing and burning is nearly inevitable.

This is exactly what happened to me this semester.

In January, 19 credits and two jobs seemed exciting and doable. I told myself that the more was on my plate, the more productive and successful I’d be. I doubled up on intensive interdisciplinary classes that were supposed to taken sequentially. I formulated independent-study-type classes and commitments in order to fit everything in. Now, as March concludes, I’m having second thoughts.

I’m trying to graduate a semester early (this December) to save money. School isn’t my thing, so I’m just trying to get done as soon as possible. This December, at 21 years old, I’ll have completed my bachelor’s degree.

I’m proud of myself. As a two-time transfer student, I never would have thought I’d finish college in three and a half years and have a degree and respectable GPA to show for it. But here I am. I made my own luck.

Unfortunately, this ambition hasn’t come without sacrifices.

I went out to a party for the first time all semester (and probably the third or fourth time all school year) last weekend. It was a blast, but I was so hungover the following day that I missed work and fell even farther behind on the the glaring pile of assignments due. I felt guilty for going out and was ridden with regret and stress.

Here’s the problem with what I’m trying to do this semester. I’m so invested in school and work that there’s no room for anything else. Should I feel guilty for going out and having fun with friends? Absolutely not. Should I beat myself up for spending a night with Netflix and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s? No. Should I detest my classes and dread class every day? No, but I do because they’re all that my life revolves around.

College academics aren’t life. College isn’t life! There’s so much more to this time in our lives than just getting the grade; getting the degree. If this is the only life we get, I don’t want to look back at my 19- and 20-year-old self and say, “Wow, all she did was homework and work.”

If I were to get hit by a car and die tomorrow, that would suck. That would suck in general, but it would especially suck because the years leading up to it weren’t lived well. I’d have an impressive transcript to show for it, but no amazing, memorable experiences to cherish forever.

Life should be an enjoyable journey and we should aspire to be happy. I shouldn’t be counting down the days until graduation in hopes that something better will follow.

Go out and party. Eat the slice of cake. Skip class to hit the slopes on that perfect pow day.

Then, nurse your hangover and drink lots of water. Hit the gym. Write that A-worthy research paper. Go to class. Get shit done.

We often lose sight of this awesome concept of life underneath the weight of all the responsibilities given to students. We’re young and able-bodied and we’re living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Go out and enjoy it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take school seriously; college is a big investment and you get out what you put in.

If I could go back, I’d take on a lot less. Less credits each semester. Only apply for one job. I’d fill my days with more things I want to do, not just things I should do. I’d stick around in Tahoe a bit longer, even if it means a bit more debt down the road.

School is important, but so is self-care and happiness. Keep it balanced.

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