How are you? I am a first time young mother who has started my first year of university in Education. I am taking two classes online. My question is how do you find a balance in life with school and relationships whether it’s kids, a partner, friends or myself?
Dear Balance-seeking Mother,
I’m managing alright, thank you for asking. Congratulations on your first child! I think motherhood sounds incredibly challenging, but also rewarding. And congratulations on pursuing a degree in Education! We don’t give our teachers enough credit.
My answer to your question is tied to how well you know yourself. Meaning, it is about how well you know what is important to you, and what you want to prioritize in life. I know you are seeking balance, and balance means giving equal attention to all things in your life. However, giving equal attention to everything in your life can lead to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and frankly it is exhausting.
Everyone desires “balance” in all aspects of their lives. Feeling balanced is not actually the result of giving equal attention to all aspects in your life, but prioritizing attention to parts of your life which are important to you, and having the ability to shift your focus as your life changes.
Furthermore, people need to realize that feeling completely balanced, and in control of everything is just not possible, and becoming OK with this can lead to feeling balanced.
Rather, balance is about finding inner peace, and then one begins to feel balanced. Feeling balanced comes from being able to be flexible, but also structured. Being flexible is important for when life throws unexpected curveballs, but we learn to go with the flow so we don’t lose balance. And being structured is important because routines often offer comfort in our day-to-day lives.
I achieved balance in my life when I re-prioritized aspects of my life. Previously, I put my family above all – catering to my parents’ every need and focusing less on myself; then my education and mental health suffered because of it. I had to make a change, and prioritize my mental health, education and career plans. I realized that I needed to set boundaries to avoid feeling overwhelmed. So I communicated with my family, and told them that I needed their support to pursue my dreams for my future. And now I prioritize my mental health, education and career plans. Family is still very important to me, but I had to set boundaries for myself so I didn’t feel overwhelmed.
I found that you find balance from knowing what is important to you, and everything else falls into its place. To remain balanced, you’ll need to learn how to re-prioritize aspects of your life once you begin to feel a shift. It might sound counterintuitive, but finding balance requires constant adjustment and once you become skilled at continually assessing and adjusting your priorities, you will find balance in your life.
I want to change my major, but I’m already in my fourth year and almost done the degree I’ve just realized I don’t want. It’ll take way longer to get a whole different degree now. What should I do?
Sincerely, Indecisive Almost-Graduate.
Dear Indecisive Almost-Graduate,
You sound just like me in my final year of my Biochemistry and Biotechnology degree. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, and I did regret choosing it because A) it was SO hard, and B) I wasn’t sure it would lead me to the career I wanted.
But I finished it, and it felt good to say that I did. My advice to you is to finish the degree you’ve started. You will feel proud and accomplished once you have that piece of paper with your name beside that degree you worked so hard for.
Also, talk to an academic advisor in your college or program and see if you have enough classes to minor in something, or to see how many classes would transfer toward a second degree. I found out that I could turn my minor in Psychology into another degree by taking 6 more courses, and that was ultimately a direction I chose to go.
Talk to a career counselor at Career Services on campus and see what kinds of careers your current degree could get you. You may be surprised by the opportunities you have.
I can relate to comparing yourself to others, feeling like it is too late to change paths or feeling like you are behind everyone else in their career trajectory. But try to pave your own path, because life is all about experiences and doing what will make you happy. So finish your degree, and try to explore as many options as you can. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. You’ve got this!