As a fourth year I’ve found that I tend to run into more graduate students on campus. Maybe this is a subliminal message from the universe that I should spend every spare moment I have working on my graduate school applications? Then again, maybe not – I find that the students I run into subscribe to one of two dispositions. Either they are focused solely on their research or they’re just waiting for the year to finish so that their degree will be over. Now, these encounters might be outlives. I’m not entrenched in the grad student culture in my city seeing as I am not (yet) a grad student. However, I refuse to believe that one can either only live and breathe their degree or resent it. I believe that there must be a way to balance things.

I am not talking about the idea of work/life balance that is so often touted from those magazines you see at the grocery store checkout. That ‘work/life balance’ is like Communism, in theory it makes a lot of sense, but in practice it causes strife, chaos, and great unhappiness. Every time I read a list of things that should reduce my stress I get even more anxious. For me, the key to balancing my life is twofold: one, I need to accept that there are things (many of them) that are not in my control, and two, I cannot use my friends, family, celebrities, or strangers as a marker for my successes.

These guidelines are extremely difficult for me to follow. I definitely do not follow them every day of my life and I’m learning that not following my guidelines is okay too. I do not look at those days as failures though. To me, at least on my good days, they are learning experiences.  Now these guidelines work for me, but they might not work for you. That’s okay too. Just because you’re routine does not follow the exact same steps as Hillary Clinton’s, Beyoncé’s, or Ming-Na’s does not mean that you are #failing at life. It means that you are being you – you are being your best self and cheers to you for doing that!

Balance is all about what makes you feel balanced. So, if your friend can balance three part-time jobs, an internship, and a relationship support her in her efforts but do not feel like you have to emulate her. You can admire people without having to imitate them. Do not let your pursuit of balance change who you are, unless of course you’re looking for change. To sum up, I will be spending more time over the next few weeks on my grad school applications but I will also spend time reading, sleeping, drinking tea, and thinking. My balance comes from busyness. I like to have things in my calendar but that does not mean I do not look forward to my days off too. No one can be ‘on’ all of the time. It’s all about balance. I hope you can find your balance too.