What Does an Ideal Academic-Social Life Balance Even Look Like?

By Marcella Pires

Can you say that you are satisfied with your academic/social life ratio? Throughout the start of this semester, I’ve asked my friends this very question, and heard similar speeches in response: “I can no longer stay up until 2am studying, I’m going to fail college” or “I just don’t have time for myself anymore, but at least I raised my GPA.” It seems like every student struggles to find a good balance. Why does it seem like your ideal academic situation and ideal social situation are mutually exclusive? Is it really impossible to have it all? I decided to brainstorm this topic in the last few weeks and I came to a realization that has seriously helped my own struggle. 

It started with the acceptance that balance literally means an even distribution of weight. It’s impossible to have a lot of both. Although, people tend to forget that they’re getting something when they give up something else. A lot of the time, you do have a good balance, but are too focused on the loss instead of the gains. You’re probably thinking it’s obviously not that simple. And it really isn’t. This exercise of reminding myself of the gains, however, has made me better appreciate my balance.

A few days ago, I had a very important test coming up. I decided, however, to go to dinner with my father’s friend’s family. They came all the way from Brazil and would be in New York for a very short period of time. I would be crazy not to take a few hours to have dinner with them, right? Yet I felt like I was losing study time. Losing the opportunity to strengthen my understanding, attain a higher grade and raise my GPA. I was so focused on the loss of time for academics that I failed to appreciate the time social experiences. Besides the amazing time I had, I got tips on the best places to rent apartments in NYC, advice on my choice of classes, and teachings about the US’ current job market scenario. Imagine the time I would have spent filtering through apartment sites. Time that can now be spent studying. 

I soon realized that a loss is also inevitably a gain. Now I would spend less time searching for apartments, stressing over classes and researching about the job market. The social end of the balance was heavier at that time so that the academic end could be heavier later. When you focus on the gains, you look at your balance in a different light. That alone gives me energy. I make the most of both scenarios: heavy academic and heavy social. 

The balance is supposed to move. It is in moving that it finally reaches its ideal state. In fact, it is in being social that you can have your greatest academic success. And by focusing on your academics you can have greatest social success. One depends on the other. You can work even more productively after letting yourself relax. You can truly relax after you’ve completed your academic work. Try acknowledging the gains and making the best out of every side – then, you will have your perfect balance. 

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