Finding Balance in College

As my summer came to a close and my friends returned to their respective schools, I felt overwhelmingly purposeless. I was done working for the summer, so I was in a stalemate, wasting time until school started. My days of emptiness and boredom motivated my ambitions. I started showing interest in club sports teams, jobs, and online publications. I wanted to get involved with organizations at school that would reflect my own passions, but would also help shape my resume. After moving in, I realized how much weight I was carrying in an effort to dedicate myself to everything I thought I should. Rather than being uneasy about doing nothing, I had pushed myself to the opposite end of the spectrum and was dreading all of my commitments.

Everyone has experienced feeling hollow and useless or overrun by responsibility. The solution is to find balance.

The first step is to consider all of the values you are hoping to gain. During a time in your life that you feel purposeless, look for those values deep within you or based on other opportunities you have explored that intrigued you. With sports, I wanted to act on my love for soccer while simultaneously improving my physical health. I also wanted to write, for my personal pleasure and to be a member of a campus club that was aligned with my career interests.  

The next step is to redirect your thoughts in order to find those attributes you are looking for while also keeping your happiness and psychological health in mind. Although it is important to get involved with experiences at your school that will shape your resume or prove your merit to future employers, it is not worth jeopardizing your happiness. It is better to choose fewer commitments and some more you-time than to choose an undergraduate life confined by overbearing responsibility. There are opportunities everywhere, especially at the University of Michigan, so you should be able to find things that fit your ideal experience easily.

Ultimately, the most important thing is satisfaction with your life. You should never feel forced or inconvenienced to be a part of something. For some people, watching movies and relaxing during their free time may be what gives them fulfillment. For others, joining a multitude of diverse activities and being constantly busy will make them the happiest. And that is ok. You should not compare yourself to others, because everyone is different and can achieve fulfillment in different ways. No matter your personality type or lifestyle choices, have faith in yourself and your abilities to get you to where you need to be later on. Do not waste too much stressing about what is to come or what you think you should be doing at this age, but rather focus on the moment.

I ultimately decided to write (obviously) and play intramural sports. We are young and in college, and being a student at the University of Michigan is challenging as it is. Let your education, health and happiness be your top priorities. And with your priorities straight, you are destined for greatness!

Images courtesy of Kelsey Henjes