Looking for Balance

Obligatory “Hey I haven’t posted in forever, but here is a life update” disclaimer….

So, at the beginning of the year I was pretty nervous about balancing two college courses along with my full time job (and relationships and hobbies and family and SLEEP…). I meant to blog about the classes in order to make some sense of the madness, but I found that my perspective on the situation kept changing.

In January I was anxious about making it all work. About a month in, I found a rhythm, and thought I was handling things rather well. I found a way to start using the skills I picked up in class at my day job, and that really helped accelerate my learning. Also, it was incredibly satisfying to be encouraged and PAID to pursue my interests. My company is the best.

Well, I lied. My rhythm turned out to be studying all the time, which is total folly. When I got tired, I switched from Python to Linear Algebra (woo hoo!), then back again. My lack of balance was a perfect recipe for burnout. Eventually my body said NO FUCK THIS SHIT I’M OUT.

Luckily, this happened just before a planned vacation. Ryan and I went to Myanmar, but as much as I love Southeast Asia, it was stressful and exhausting (I was sick the entire time). I came back tired and humbled, but determined to plow through the rest of the semester. Since I had more flexibility with my online Linear Algebra class, I put it on the back burner and focused on Python. I decided not to kill myself, and skipped a couple of homework labs. And you know what? It was FINE. I got a B, and a recommendation for a teacher’s assistant job in the fall. 😀

So, now here we are about a month and a half after my Python class wrapped. I’m mostly excited by the projects I’m working on, but to be honest, when I’m not in the zone, I feel bummed out. My friends’ summer vacation photos taunt me. I could go on vacation, but I need to be saving money. Also, several people in my life have recently gotten big promotions, and while I am truly happy for them, I wonder to myself when my hard work will pay off. I’ve been at this for about a year, and the goal still feels so far away.

So, this whole balance thing… I’m still figuring it out. Here are a couple of tips that have saved me:

  • Health is a priority. Eat healthy, make time for daily exercise, sleep. Don’t drink too much. Whenever I skimped on any of these things, I felt it the next day. I’m old.
  • Outsource what you can. Despite living within walking distance to 6 grocery stores, I started buying groceries on Instacart again. Having one less thing to do gave me more time to relax, which was well worth the delivery fee.
  • Lean on your partner for support. That’s why they’re there, right?
  • Lower your standards.  Sometimes things just have to be “good enough.” Easier said than done, as I am a total control freak who can not let go.
  • Keep your hobbies. Or you will become a boring zombie.
  • Batch your chores during non-peak hours to save time and stress. I fell under the spell of Meal Prep Sundays, and did my laundry at weird hours.
  • Do not feel guilty and attempt to read all of your magazine subscriptions which have piled up on your nightstand and remind you that you have no life… START FRESH.
  • Schedule time with friends. Going into hermit mode was a mistake that I learned too late.
  • Find like-minded people. I barely had time for my friends, but being around classmates who were going through the same craziness has been invaluable for support and motivation.

Journaling has also helped me navigate my stress. I’ll try to post more frequently here, since I am paying for the web hosting after all :p. Let’s say once a week, optimistically.