As I await to conclude the final months of my college life, accompany me through this harmonious and remarkable journey of trying to achieve work-life balance.
Over a year ago today, I had the chance to volunteer and work in an office, building upon my previous volunteer experience in 2019, where I focused on administrative and technical tasks. Initially, I was expected to work for only two months, but they extended an incredible opportunity for me to continue as a part-time worker while finishing my Communication degree.
Fast forward to the present, I find myself juggling the demands of being a college student while fulfilling my work responsibilities, which is no easy task. It is time-consuming, challenging, and far from the ideal situation. Ideally, as students, we hope to solely concentrate on our academics until graduation. However, that is not always feasible, especially given the current circumstances. So, as a working student, the question arises: Does work-life balance truly exist?
When I first entered college as a freshman, I must admit that I wasn’t fully prepared. The pandemic had created an unexpected environment that differed greatly from what I had envisioned. I was excited about college and the memorable experiences and opportunities it would bring. However, for almost two years, we have been confined to an online setting, which hasn’t always been productive or motivating for me. Nonetheless, I persevered and discovered alternative ways to stay motivated.
It still feels like destiny, but I consider myself fortunate to have encountered such wonderful individuals during my journey through college. Since childhood, I can say that I possessed some level of outgoing nature. However, I used to be incredibly shy and hesitant to initiate conversations or engage with others. By the end of my freshman year, I could probably count on my fingers the number of friends I had made.
As if the stars had aligned, I formed a deep connection with my closest college friends, as if we were soul sisters (pun intended). Our shared interests served as a common ground, and we continue to inspire and influence each other through our diverse passions. Being a sentimental young woman, I can genuinely say that I am immensely grateful to have met such intelligent and creative individuals whom I will forever admire.
On a different note, let’s talk about another setting for me: work. It presented me with a distinct environment that surprised me on various levels. Perhaps it was a culture shock? Although it wasn’t an entirely new setting for me, as I had experienced it in 2019, I still felt a sense of anxiety regarding my work. In 2019, I primarily focused on desk-based tasks. However, today, this job challenged me to do the same while engaging in some fieldwork and collaborate with other people.
Being a communication major, this situation shouldn’t be a conflict for me. Instead, it presents an opportunity to refine my skills and apply them in a real-world industry setting. However, I found it challenging to communicate with individuals who were deeply entrenched in their own affiliations and personal opinions. While our academic institution endeavors to equip us with the necessary skills, when faced with the reality, self-doubt and second-guessing inevitably arise.
And as a part-time worker, I am grateful to have been guided by understanding individuals who recognize that my priority is completing my degree. They took it upon themselves to share their wisdom and support me throughout, with the aim of eventually allowing me to stand on my own. My bosses have been incredibly generous and kind, acknowledging that I am still in the process of figuring out my path. Additionally, I am delighted to have colleagues who have become like family. They form my core group of confidants, and as long as they maintain their faith in me, I believe I can overcome any challenge.
However, the journey has not always been smooth sailing, if you know what I mean. Problems and difficulties are inevitable and accepted as natural occurrences. During the span of one year as a working student, I encountered various hardships. I became overwhelmed with work, disappointed in my performance, emotionally drained by the burdens, anxious about meeting my own expectations and perceived people’s expectations. There were even instances where I faced challenges both in school and work, significantly impacting my personal life and ability to cope with stress.
It has truly been a wild and unpredictable rollercoaster ride. One that presents numerous possibilities, both positive and negative. The underlying cause of all these situations I found myself in was the failure to establish boundaries and non-negotiables that only I could determine. I struggled to balance my time and give my best effort in both areas of my life. While this is a common and inevitable challenge, for me, it was devastating to lose control of things.
this is me trying by Taylor Swift
That’s the downside of taking on too many responsibilities – it becomes easy to forget how to prioritize what truly matters. I became overwhelmed with various tasks, to the point where even rest and leisure activities were no longer available to me. I experienced tremendous stress, lost sleep, and withdrew socially, isolating myself from others. If you’re reading this, I sincerely hope you never have to go through a similar experience.
So, how did I overcome it? The people I mentioned earlier, who supported me through my college and work journey, made each day more manageable. I never lost touch with those core individuals who understood my situation from both perspectives and empathized with me. I maintained my affection and concern for their well-being as well.
I also find strength in artists and individuals who continuously inspire me to keep pushing forward. These artists became my companions during moments when I wanted to be alone or when I needed a temporary escape from studies and work. And, of course, I allowed myself to indulge in the food I craved. LIKE A LOT. My previous stories about food are a testament to how it brings me comfort and satisfaction. Don’t we all seek that?
Ultimately, I am immensely grateful for my family, who believes in me, supports me, and showers me with love and care to keep me going. In their own small ways, they know how to brighten my mood and alleviate my stress. No matter what happens, they will always be there by my side. Deadlines and mistakes may come and go, but with their presence, I can still stand tall (even though I’m literally short haha kidding!)
So, is there such a thing as work-life balance? Well, I’m certainly not an expert, but as someone who has faced difficulties and will continue to face more, I can say that yes, it is possible. Work-life balance is real as long as you set clear goals for yourself. It involves learning to delegate tasks, prioritize responsibilities, and establish limits and boundaries. Always remember that you are not a robot; you are a human being who deserves rest from time to time.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, regularly assess your progress and identify areas where you excel. Continue to harness it and put to your advantage when it comes to achieving tasks. Use your weaknesses as motivation to keep pushing for improvement. It’s perfectly fine to constantly challenge yourself and set goals, as long as it is for your own personal growth and well-being.
Above all, make sure to allocate enough time for yourself to rest and engage in activities that free your mind from work and school. Whether it’s alone, with family, friends, or indulging in entertainment, don’t forget to do things that bring you joy. We often neglect this because we believe we don’t deserve it yet, but we must remember that a happy and positive mindset is what truly enhances our productivity.
Like what I continue to reiterate, it is important to pamper and treat yourself from time to time. I usually spend movie dates with my sister, dine out with friends, and do not forget to celebrate victories with my family. Even just catching up and having conversations with the right people is be enough for me to recharge. In my alone time, I can absolutely spend it binge watching series and movies that suits my interests. Well, it’s no secret that it brings me eternal joy when I cook, and eat.
I understand that this is not an ideal situation, and reality has a way of confronting us with harsh truths. Nevertheless, you have the power to shape your own path in society, whether it pertains to work or personal life. Surround yourself with the right people who push you forward while caring for your well-being above all. Finally, love yourself and recognize your own worth. When you allow yourself to breathe and find serenity, you will discover how much more you are capable of achieving.
Want to share your thoughts and similar experiences relating to mine? Message and find us here and we’ll gladly connect with you!
Read more from Judea Zyneth Pineda here!