Division, not substitution, encourages school/life balance

The Wolf Staff

It’s the night before a big assignment is due, and your computer shuts down. It won’t turn on for the rest of the night, so you accept defeat and a certain percentage off of the late assignment. The next day at school your teacher decides to extend the deadline for another day. You’re saved.

The frustration and happiness you experienced aren’t independent of each other. The lows and highs of emotions are reactionary depending on the depth of the other one’s sentiments. We can apply the same principles to school, work and life. It’s important to have balance.

When we’re told to have multiple focuses, it’s usually doing a physical activity alongside work, or having a creative hobby to engage with on the weekends. But it isn’t that simple if sometimes it means taking the time needed for studying and putting it towards a personal indulgence.

This can feel selfish and unproductive, because our culture has convinced us that down time is equivalent to failure and success is ceaseless. In reality, we can’t have accomplishments without rest. While it may seem counterintuitive, if we pour everything into one discipline burnout is certain to happen. Our culture stresses the achievement of success as a route to happiness, but that mindset isn’t sustainable and neglects the morality that drives our passions.

Balance can be seen as being well-rounded or having success in multiple areas, but in reality it means to have a way to fulfill yourself apart from work. It doesn’t have to be as rigid as we think, just able to fluctuate with the natural rhythm of existence. Just like the space that school and work take up, balance shouldn’t be more demanding of you than the time you are able to give. If a relaxed task starts to feel like a chore, you may want to reconsider its role and the meaning it provides you to discern whether it’s worth the effort to maintain.

With the same approach, it can be dangerous to mistake leisure for abandon. Substitution doesn’t encourage productivity, because it’s still singular in its nature. For instance, rather than engaging in entertainment for the same amount of time as a study session would take, commit to a certain amount of time for both.

The enormous amount of time spent climbing a corporate ladder with the end goal of gleaming bliss leaves the passions we hold outside of labor discarded somewhere along the way, with their recollection in the summer, ‘five’ years or maybe during retirement. But, taking merely five minutes a day to go for a walk, learn a new skill or call a long-distance friend can begin to build a healthy equilibrium. Sometimes balance means making a mess out of structure.

As we spend so much time focusing on academics, it’s important to have ways to express other interests. Balance can mean putting time and effort into creative outputs, to receive emotional validation apart from academic success.

If we carefully orchestrate each day of the week to achieve maximum progress, we lose the freedom to truly live. While wrapped up in school, work and life, we forget that we are people first.