How to Juggle

There is a joke that in undergrad you can choose two of the following: getting enough sleeping, getting good grades and having an active social life. You can’t do all three, but two sounds about right.

Things get a little more complicated in grad school. We have all three of those things, but also jobs, sometimes a thesis, work for a professor, planning your career, paying back loans (Are you getting married any time soon? When do you want to have kids? Where are you going to live after graduation? Are your parents guilting you in moving back in-state?)…it’s overwhelming.

I don’t think you can ever get perfect results when you try to balance all this stuff. I had a few days, or maybe even weeks, of feeling down recently with my school and work load (plus future load) and realized I was beginning to shut down a bit. I was pushing myself to be perfect in work, perfect in school, losing sleep and waking up exhausted because I stayed awake trying to figure it all out.

There are no easy answers, but that’s okay. When I interviewed for my current job I remember mentioning to my boss that I’d need to be out of the country for a week for a class. He was very understanding and simply said, “We know your first job is school.”

And THAT is the best attitude to have. When I remembered that, I decided to be kind to myself, as my mother sometimes tell me when I get too critical and into perfectionist mode, and remember that work will always be there, but school will not. In my position, there are others filling the same role that I do, and if I do not get to that email I need to get to, chances are, someone else will. Busy times ebb and flow for all of us, and the team supports itself. No one can help me with school work, though. And it is, after all, really my job now.

I’m sure I will continue to have moments of procrastination or annoyance at class stuff. That’s fine. Everyone does. But that’s no reason to beat yourself up for not acheiving perfection in any part of it. Do what you can and remember your mental health! Juggling is not a precise art, in this case.

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