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Balance Your Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     You get home from school, eat a snack, go to soccer, church, finish your homework, stuff some dinner in your face, and finally, go to bed. Sound hectic? It is. Too many teens are cramming their schedules with activities and putting school second. But in the end, does that pay?

How many extracurriculars are you involved in? Three? Four? Are they worth your time? Think about it. That’s what I did. Your grades may be falling but you keep telling yourself, What we’re learning is really hard but I’m still trying my hardest. Don’t believe it, you’re lying to yourself.

It’s okay. You’re not the only one with that problem. Across the United States, teens’ free time has decreased dramatically. But that doesn’t mean you should blame it on someone else. If you really feel like you’re too busy, cut back on what you do. I know that sounds like a crazy idea, but try it. You’ll have more time for yourself and to relax. William Doherty, a professor of family social sciences at the University of Minnesota says, “What happens when kids are over-scheduled is that they get more stressed out, they get more irritable, they’re lacking enough sleep, and in general their well-being is not as good.”

Here’s the biggest problem: Many teens are so packed with activities because their parents want colleges to think their kid is a well-rounded, great student. But guess what? Many colleges don’t consider kids with the busiest schedules to be the top candidates. A busy schedule usually means you have less time for school, resulting in lower grades.

The big question remains: Is it really worth your time? You may be having fun at your practices, but what about when you get home? Is it fun rushing to do your homework at 10 p.m.? Is it fun constantly telling yourself to stay awake at school? Or is it fun not having free time to hang with your friends? I don’t think so. Part of growing up is having time with friends. If you’re always doing activities, when are you going to have time?

You may enjoy your activities, but what about down time, your time? “If you like everything you do,” says Emily, a young teen from Massachusetts, “it’s never a problem.” That’s coming from a girl who’s on three soccer teams, two hockey teams, runs cross-country, plays basketball at her school, and is on student council. If it doesn’t sound like she is busy enough, think again. She also has church classes on Tuesdays and she’s part of a program that helps unfortunate kids in other countries on Fridays. If you ask me, she’s way too busy. She’s so busy, it almost doesn’t sound fun, does it?

The best advice I can give you is to balance your life. It’s fun and good for you to participate in extracurriculars, but sometimes too many just isn’t good for you. The best way to live your life is to balance it out. Try it, you’ll like it.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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