This year has been incredibly difficult. With all of the changes that have been happening, it has been hard to have a consistent schedule. For the last year and a half, I have been trying to find a style that balances my school, work, and social life. This kind of time and life management is something I hope to take with me beyond my college years. Now that I am starting to think more seriously about my future, goals, and aspirations, I have been thinking back about how I got to the point where I am. A point at which I feel balanced and confident within my current situation.
In the 2020 Fall semester, I felt incredibly unbalanced. With all of the fear around the pandemic and social distancing preventing our abilities to meet new people and visit with friends and family, I felt as if I was slowly deteriorating socially. As an extrovert who likes to keep a packed calendar, it was almost like culture shock to have nothing to do except go to class. Since beginning college, I have almost always maintained working 20 hours a week with a full-time class schedule and plans every weekend with friends. Last fall, I was lucky to get 10 hours of remote work, and the only time I saw people was in a class over Zoom. It was hardly the human contact I was used to. It was almost like my social barometer was at an all-time low and I was mentally suffering as a result.
I have always prided myself on being someone who can quickly and easily form interpersonal relationships with others. In a socially distant world where that is one of the most discouraged things, I felt isolated and sad. It almost made me feel guilty to feel sad though because amid a global pandemic, I was safe, healthy, and able-bodied. I could afford to live in my apartment at school and could get tested to go home and see my family for holidays. By being aware of privileges that I had (and still have as the pandemic continues to be a threat), I did not let myself express those feelings of sadness, fear, and distress. Instead, I simply bottled them up and ignored them, knowing that if I could complain about what was wrong it could still always get worse.
Come November, I recognized that this was no longer a healthy way to cope or manage my time. We knew that we would be online again for classes in the Spring semester and I knew that I needed to do something to change the progression of my college experience. If we were going to be online, then I was going to need to make some choices about how to make my time worth it. I started looking around and saw a listing for a job that seemed pretty easy and approachable. It fit into my major and the development in that program could have me add to skills that would push me further in a career direction. The job was still on campus so it was walkable and with the hours, I still would be able to balance my time between work there, work remotely, and my commitments to my class. I took a chance, applied, interviewed, and was offered the job.
After training in January, I knew that getting a second job and moving to work a collective 30-40 hours a week on top of my full-time class schedule was the best decision I could have made for myself. I have made friends at my second job and since I am in the office working there, I have a reason to get out of my house and go for a walk every day. Working has made me far busier but has also improved my emotional well-being. Between both jobs, I am being encouraged and recognized for my work. I have quickly become a mentor and an advocate for others and am being fulfilled in a way I had not been since I went to classes on campus and spent every day with my friends.
To be clear, I don’t think working two jobs and so many hours could be good for everyone, but it has been great for me. To be fully honest, I think the best way to reestablish time management during this time is to stick to your schedule and to fill your personal schedule with things that will continue to keep you busy. These could be things like work, an extra class, a new fun club, or even regularly scheduled video chats with family and friends. By making myself a routine that was full of commitments and activities, I began to feel a lot less of the imbalance I felt in the Fall.