By Jack Gatti
So if you’re reading this right now, you might be a student leader. You might be the type of person who devotes your time to improving your school and your community. You might be the type of person who follows through on your commitments and tries your best to make others around you happy. You might be the type of person who is trying to bring out the best in others around you. You might be the type of person with a color-coded calendar that is full of things to keep you busy for the next three months.
You might be the type of person who sometimes feels exhausted by fulfilling all of your roles on a daily basis. You might feel like it’s a real struggle to do everything you do and be the best student you can be, but you try to make it look easy. You might be the type of person who doesn’t always have time to hang out with your friends because your schedule doesn’t permit it. And even if you like staying organized with that neat, color-coded calendar, maybe its content and the to-do list it spawns actually make you cringe.
I know that I can definitely relate to some of the things written above. Throughout my life, I’ve loved staying busy. Staying productive is healthy. It gives us a sense of purpose and an opportunity to use our talents to have a positive impact on the world around us. However, there’s a flip side of the coin that I think student leaders (myself included) try to ignore: it’s impossible to do it all.
Despite this, many of us still stretch ourselves too thin, and sometimes it catches up with us. I know that this has been the case for me this semester, and I have taken some time to reflect on that and make some changes in my life.
Achieving balance in my life is something that I struggle with. Through my reflection, I have created a short list of things that I am going to try to do every day to live a more balanced life. If you relate to me, maybe you’ll find some of these tips to be helpful.
Carve out time for yourself every day: Even if it is as little as 15 minutes, everything helps. No social media. No answering emails or texts. Use a few waking moments to do something relaxing that you enjoy. Whether it’s exercising, reading a book for pleasure, taking a walk outside, or listening to music, take some time to clear your head. Even put it on that nice color-coded calendar so you don’t forget.
Surround yourself with the right friends: Over time, we become more like the people we spend time with, and our close friends have a profound influence on our lives. Ultimately, if you surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes, who support you, and who respect your values and interests, you will become more like the person you want to be.
Before you take on a responsibility, ask yourself “is this yes a good yes?”: This tip comes from a wonderful mentor of mine, Haley Street. At the beginning of this school year, Haley was kind enough to listen to me lament about some of the trouble that I was having and offered this valuable piece of advice. Before you take on a new responsibility, take the time to reflect on what the outcome of that responsibility will be. Will it positively contribute to something that you care about? Is it worth devoting your energy to that responsibility over something else?
Begin each day with a positive attitude:Think of every day as a new opportunity to do something great. As a student leader, you already wake up with two tremendous privileges: you have the opportunity to receive an education, and you have the opportunity to have a positive influence on the world around you.
Be flexible: If you’re at all like me, then you want everything to follow your plan. But things will almost never go according to that plan. When things get stressful, try to view the deviance from the plan in a positive light. Maybe even though things didn’t go according to YOUR plan, everything will still work out just fine.
These are the practices that I am trying to implement in my life to help myself be more balanced. Have I achieved balance yet? Absolutely not, and it won’t happen overnight. But by giving myself a framework for thinking about how to live a balanced life, I am getting a tiny step closer to my goal every day.
If you sometimes feel stressed or overwhelmed by everything you have going on, you’re certainly not alone. Let’s take steps to improve every day together, because you deserve to make your happiness a priority.