View from Western Washington University

Finding Balance

Students are expected to do everything to fit the expectations set in front of us, and balance is often forgotten. We either study too hard, neglecting sociability, or we socialize too much, neglecting our education. After years of struggling with these expectations, I’ve been told time and time again that I need balance in my life, but what is considered “the right balance” for a college student in trying to manage their day-to-day activities and expectations?

Homesickness can trigger detrimental habits and behavior in trying to cope, but on top of that, the expectation of being a student weighs heavily on our shoulders. Somehow, we’re expected to move on, study hard, be social, work, and graduate with an outstanding GPA which earns us a degree in a major we’re supposed to love. It’s only my freshman year, and I’m already overwhelmed with the expectations of the school and my family.

The home we leave has an impact on how we handle being at college. Sometimes there are things from home that still trigger us from 800 miles away. Parents leave the impression on some that we’re to develop as a human, while remaining the same to them, which can create a need for balance in identity between family and friends.

As children, we are raised to be a certain way with our family. Alone, we developed our own identity with people we encounter. Ideally, as we grow up, we become one person with our family and friends. Realistically, it’s more complicated than that. Our identity remains split between family and friends. As the oldest and first-generation college student, I set an examples. Both of my parents have this idea of what college is and what I need to do.

When we first move away from college, we’re told opinions on how to survive college. The tools for balance are given, but we don’t know how much of everything we need. There aren’t instructions for “the right balance,” because the “right balance” depends on what is right for you. Despite my freshman status, I’ve found some ways that help with balance.

Time-Management

It may seem like an obvious tip, but it really is important. Set time aside to complete you studies. If you have a project due at a certain time, dedicate and schedule when you will sit down and complete it. Take into consideration all that needs to be done and the time you have been allotted to do so.

Exercise

Exercising can help eliminate stress. If you invite your friends, it can be a time for socializing and catching up. If you go alone, it can act as a self-help time where you can take time to clear your head. Not to mention it’s good for the body as well as the mind.

Stay Involved

Academics are pretty time-consuming, but it’s important to stay involved in the community. If you isolate yourself from social activities or community events, you could miss out on opportunities that you might never get again.

Relax

I know, it’s easier said than done. When I first here the word “relax,” I immediately think nap. Sometimes that can be the case, but that’s not it’s complete intention. Relaxing can mean doing anything that calms you. I set aside time to relax and have a creative outlet. It eases my mind of stress, and I am able to focus on what is in front of me. Schedule time to relax and de-stress with whatever calms you.

Sleep

GET ENOUGH SLEEP. College students require at least eight hours of sleep. Occasionally, one might bend the rules because of that one assignment worth 25% of your grade that you waited until the last minute before (reference “Time Management”). Nevertheless, it’s important to get enough sleep to be mentally present and engaged in our academic and social lives so we don’t become sleep deprived zombies.

Even these five things seem impossible to juggle at once, but some don’t have to be every day. Set time to get all your homework done a day before it’s due; give the last day to yourself as a relaxation or adventure day. Exercise whenever you can, even if that consists of a walk across campus just to get out, clear your head, and keep moving. Rest your mind, body, and soul at the end of the day; calculate when you need to go to bed to when you need to get up. Find balance. Be healthy. Be happy.