Balancing the Personal and Professional
by Tyler English | published Feb. 19th, 2020
College students are faced with balancing their courseload, family, friends, clubs and work — not to mention their sanity. The task of being a college student comes with the understanding that your time is no longer yours. Your 24-hour day may consist of a mere two hours of free time, which you spend shoveling food into your face after not eating all day.
Speaking from one college student to another, take a break! I know from personal experience you can get lost in the flood of Google Calendar events to the point where you don't even know who you are any more, just another student on autopilot.
Before you even knew it, all 24 hours of your day have been booked, even sleeping and eating have to be squeezed in. You aren’t complaining though. Life is pretty good — you are involved, have things to do and keep busy. Yet, something is missing. You feel disconnected and still unhappy. In the hustle and bustle of college life, we sacrifice our personal time so that we can accommodate even more responsibilities.
Taylor Humphrey currently has a year left in her Hospitality major. She also works as a Senior Commuter Ambassador and is a mother.
Humphrey balances a lot in her life and manages to work in well-deserved personal time when she can.
“Finding a balance is hard,” Humphrey said. “But sometimes just being alone and going to the grocery store can give me that time.”
As a mother and a student, Humphrey is stretched thin when it comes to personal time. If she has errands to run and the ability to do them alone, she takes the opportunity. Some people may find it strange to make a run to Wegmans alone. Humphrey however, finds it relieving as she is able to decompress after her day or in between responsibilities.
Kim Saysamone, a temporary staff assistant in the Center for Women and Gender, is also a working mother taking classes. She manages to find a balance in personal time by taking a few minutes when she can to decompress.
“I’ll walk in the door when I get home and just ask my kids to, ‘give mommy five minutes,’” Saysamone said.
"Give mommy five minutes."
When Saysamone can't find an extended period of time to give herself, she knows the importance of taking a few minutes to decompress and settle after a long day before moving to her next responsibility. Taking those few minutes helps her remain calm and level headed when she jumps between work, family and school.
Personal Time Practices
Depending on how much extra time Humphrey or Saysamone have in their day, they try their best to work in some down time.
“I take long baths and read when I have the time to spare,” Saysamone said.
When Saysamone has free time, she likes to fill it with solo activities for her own enjoyment. From her reading hobby to practicing self-care techniques, Saysamone has a variety of ways that she can spend her sporadic amounts of free time.
Humphrey, on the other hand, tends to find her free time either early in the morning or late at night.
“It sounds bad for me to say it, but I love the silence,” Humphrey said.
"It sounds bad for me to say it, but I love the silence."
Humphrey continued to explain that when she is the only one awake in the house, she feels peace and comfort. This quiet gives her time to think and fully be with herself in a moment. Also finding comfort in running errands alone, Humphrey recognizes that her personal time is simply when she gets to be with herself.
What you do in your free time is none of my business; however as students, it is important that we take a few minutes per day to simply just be with ourselves. Whether that be partaking in a hobby like video games, reading, going out for a run or simply sitting alone in the shower, give yourself the time to do either something that you enjoy or something to help center you with yourself.
Let’s Get Personal
Speaking as a student, a friend, a family member and an employee both on and off campus, I know just how hard it can be to find some time for yourself. I have gone weeks without talking to friends and family when school and work would start stressing me out. The disconnect further adds to my stressors.
I’ve had peaks and valleys in my college career and I know that I can attribute them to not taking proper care of my mental, social and physical health. Classes would start to stress me out and I would stop talking to friends and co-workers, making work all that more stressful. The spiral would start and I would see no way of ending it, until I had a breakdown or one of my friends slapped me with reality.
In my third year of college, I finally know that I need an equal balance of time with friends and time spent alone with my thoughts. Starting my own self-care routine and checklist for each day helped to keep me on track and in line with myself.
Saysamone actually spends her free time talking with her friends and family about her day and sharing stories. She sees it as a way to not feel so alone in her struggles.
“When I don’t get my personal time, I become less patient and irritable,” Saysamone said.
Humphrey, Saysamone and I each notice how a lack of personal time can affect our behaviors and start having larger influences on our delicate balances.
It may sound like the typical 'take care of yourself' cliché, but it's true. In our lives of bouncing from classes to meetings to homework assignments, we can easily lose ourselves and what makes us who we are. Taking time for yourself, whatever that time may look like, can benefit you and motivate you to achieve far more than your overextended self may think capable.