Personal, Stories Told

Living life in balance

I may have shaken off my freshman-year funk thanks to Paul McCartney, but it took me until my sophomore year in college to learn my lesson about working too much. During the first quarter (our year held three quarters rather than two semesters) I overloaded, taking one extra class. I hoped that if I could do that every quarter, I could get ahead and graduate early.

Silly me. I couldn’t keep up with the workload. In trying, I exhausted myself; with no reserves I kept getting sick. My grades tanked; I wound up on academic probation.

I went home on break at the end of that quarter feeling defeated. I considered changing schools or dropping out entirely, but my pride kept me from giving up. However, when I returned for the second quarter I changed everything about the way I was approaching school.

  • No more overloading.
  • I would start my nightly homework after dinner, but I would stop at midnight and go to bed, period. Whatever didn’t get done, didn’t get done. If that caused me to flunk out, so be it.
  • I was going to spend more time having fun. That led to me becoming more involved with the campus radio station, where I did the morning show and ended up as station manager.

Here’s the crazy thing I never expected: My grades started going up. It was a slow rise, but quarter over quarter I kept doing better. During my senior year, I did well enough to make the dean’s list.

I wasn’t performing better because I was any smarter. Rather, I had just learned an important lesson about balance and limitations. That is, I have limitations, and I need to respect them by keeping my life in balance. I need to work hard, but I also need to sleep and have fun. Since then, I’ve learned that I also need to eat right and exercise. In my teens and 20s, a sedentary life and a terrible diet seemed to have no effect on me. That’s not so now that I’m in my 40s!

In what ways do you try to keep balance in your life?

When my life gets out of balance, my dog is always the first to let me know. Read how.