Balancing Act

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’m going into my junior year of high school and I’m already stressing out even though it’s more than a week away.  Last year I worked really hard and just managed to get a 3.0 GPA and I hear this year is even going to be tougher.  There is so much pressure to get into college!  But I want to also focus on my friends and having a life! How do I balance school, friends and my sports commitment? And were these ever really the best years of anyone’s life?

ANSWER

Hang in there, little mama. These most certainly will not be the best years of your life – much, much better years to come.  I don’t know why parents tend to romanticize high school. Personally speaking, they were among my worst years which propelled me to specialize in working with adolescents early in my career – hoping to make those years a little more bearable for the teens who crossed my path.

Maintaining balance in life is a constant challenge and good for you for trying to achieve it in your youth.  Most of us wait until we’re nearly burnt out in adulthood to reflect on the absence thereof.  So how do you do it? And what does it even mean to have balance?

It doesn’t mean that 50% of your life is spent socializing.  Think of work-life balance as dessert-meal balance.  You don’t necessarily need dessert after every meal to feel fulfilled. You can have it after 1 meal a day and feel fulfilled.  It’s the same with socializing.  Maybe you have a friend over 1 night mid-week to watch your favorite TV show and get your homework out of the way by Saturday afternoons so you can have Saturday nights through Sundays to do anything or nothing.   It all boils down to time management and living a life of intention.  If it’s your intention to have down time, you need to look at your schedule of homework, tests and projects and budget that down time into your life.  If, on the other hand, you live your life in response to the demands of the world, you will have little if any downtime and your stress will be through the roof.

I’m a huge proponent of balance in high school and I’m not of the mindset that you have to get into a particular college to become successful in life.  In fact, I’ll say that if you can achieve work-life balance now, you’ll virtually ensure that your life will be successful, as measured by your level of happiness.

Writer’s Stats: Female, Straight.