Welcome to Sex and the Campus, a weekly column where I discuss all things love and relationships. It should be noted that I do not claim to be any kind of expert in either area. Dating is hard, but hopefully reading this column won’t be.
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This week we’re talking about the college student’s most allusive word: Balance. What does it mean, and how do we achieve it?
The short answer to that question is, we don’t. What even is balance, and why are we all chasing after it? For a USC student finding balance usually means juggling having leadership positions in at least two student organizations, an internship or two, a job, taking 18 units (and excelling in all of them), all while finding time to go out every weekend, have meaningful friendships, and — if you’ve somehow escaped the hook-up black hole — a relationship. If your head is spinning that means you understand how ridiculous it is to be held to such a standard.
A wise man once told me that balance is an illusion — I neither remember the man nor his name, but his words have always stuck with me, and I agree with him. Our brains are very powerful things, they can do a lot; just not everything. There’s a reason why young adults are burning out either half way through college, or even before they step foot on campus. The pressures on us are immense, especially in a day and age where you can put in so much and there’s not much guarantee of a job.
When we’re feeling overextended and overwhelmed the first things to fall by the wayside are our friendships and relationships. Girl’s night turns into Girl’s-once-a-year, and date night is just a distant memory. Why is it that our first inclination is to turn away from what could restore us the most?
I’m an isolator, my first thought when I’m feeling burned out is to turn inward and try to get some alone time. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just how I recharge. The problem is now I have a boyfriend, friends, 18 units, clubs, a job, and an internship. My world has turned into a carousel of people and responsibilities. In the tiny moments I have to catch my breath, I start to feel the creeping of guilt. I could be using my extra hour to study, or grab lunch with a friend, or even hang out with my boyfriend. When really I all I want to do is cocoon on my couch and watch One Tree Hill.
We shouldn’t ever feel guilty for taking time for ourselves, it’s important not only for our health, but also our relationships, and our grades, and our work at our job/internship. You see, what the world doesn’t tell you is that in order to be a better friend, girlfriend, leader, or employee, you have to be a better you. That can only happen when you’re feeding your soul. Maybe that means going to the beach, or getting in a good workout, or finding a nice place to read a book, or maybe even dancing the night away at a dope party. Whatever that thing is for you, do it, and have no regrets.
USC teaches us a lot, but it doesn’t teach us how to really care for ourselves — for the things we can’t see like our hearts, and minds, and souls. That’s why I don’t think there’s such a thing as true balance. If we do everything we can, but we lose ourselves or our relationships in the process, what really have we gained? Do what you love, and don’t feel bad for any of it. At the end of the day you truly shine when you feel whole.