"You see me move back and forth between both, I'm trying to find a balance, I've gotta find a balance."
- Atmosphere's "Trying to Find a Balance"
Balance is all-important. Whether you realize it or not, everyone is in a constant struggle between two forces. Too much of one or the other is not healthy or desirable.
School is a source of stress for most high-school students. There's always a paper due or a test coming up. But how much is too much? Hypothetically speaking, if you devote four years of your life to school - and absolutely nothing else - you would probably be accepted to the college of your choice. For the long and grueling hours of schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and studying, not to mention a job, you have all but sacrificed your social life. How can you expect to have a healthy social life in addition to all these activities?
But that is all right. Because after devoting endless hours to school, you have been accepted to the college of your choice. Finally, the work has paid off. Only four or five years of college, and you will have the job of your dreams.
So you do the same thing during college: Study, work, sleep, in that order. You phone your family on weekends, and the people you call friends are all doing the same thing: study, work, sleep.
But where do you draw the line? Is it possible to study, work, sleep and enjoy life? Maybe. Just shave a few minutes from studying, a little from working, and drop a few from sleeping, and dedicate that time to something you enjoy.
This is not to suggest you change your priorities altogether. Balance is key. If you go through high school with a perfect grade-point average and graduate with honors, you have succeeded. If you get through college with a perfect grade-point average and graduate with honors, you have succeeded. If you apply for the job of your dreams and are hired, then you have succeeded.
But if you did not take time along the way to enjoy yourself, and perhaps enjoy the presence of a special individual too, how successful are you? If all you do after high school is work 80 hours a week and make a lot of money, how successful are you? As Wallace Stevens said in The Emperor of Ice Cream, "You should enjoy life before death."
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.