As a disclaimer in case my boss is reading this, I like my job. However, I’ve had it for over a year now and when it comes to balancing academics and my struggling social life, it can become a real hindrance. Especially in college, not everyone has a job and therefore you find yourself having another thing in your packed schedule that makes it even harder to make connections. If you’re finding yourself struggling to do it all like I am, hopefully I’ll have something for you.
1. know your limits
This goes two ways. For one, don’t work yourself to death. At the beginning of last year, even though I was promised every other weekend off, I ended up working about six weekends straight. I was afraid to say something, and I still am when I get overscheduled, but at a certain point I was just exhausted. I missed move-in weekend because I was just too tired to do anything after work but sit alone and fall asleep early. I’m having a much better time this year now that I know how much I can logically work within my schedule. For another, I didn’t know my limits when it came to how much I could hang out with people before it interfered with everything else. I was terrified that if I left a movie night or a casual hang-out early I wouldn’t be invited to the next one, so I ran on too little sleep and on too little time. I was exhausted at work and exhausted at class. It made me resent my job. Which leads me to #2:
2. Don’t get angry
Sometimes, when you are going to school on your own dime and need to work in order to afford groceries and rent and still know that you’re going to drown in student debt, it can be really upsetting to watch other people have more time to go to parties and make friends and just sleep. And it’s really easy to get angry. But it doesn’t make things any better. I learned that it’s better to take a step away and reflect on your feelings rather than let them manifest into anger.
3. Find the right people
I learned that sometimes, when you’re in college and therefore in an environment where some people have jobs and some people don’t, you can find yourself around people who don’t understand how packed your schedule is. It became a lot easier to maintain friendships once I was around people who acknowledged that I had to leave a bit early to go to work or to wake up early for an early shift. Having people just ask about your busy class or work schedule shows that they are making time for you and making sure you’re not left out. I thought I missed out on so much of the so-called “college experience” by having to spend so much time at work. It’s still hard to balance, but I feel a lot more welcome in social circles of people who understand why I have to work and make an effort to try to find a time when all of us can hang out.
Finding enough time in your busy schedule is hard enough as just a student, but as a student employee, I’ve found it even harder. There are still times when I feel balancing school, a job, and a social life is an impossible feat. And it kind of is. But I’m trying my best to make it better.