American Olympian Laurie Hernandez wasn’t born with balance. In fact, none of us are. Her first steps were wobbly; her first time riding a bicycle required training wheels. 16 years later, she earned a silver medal in the balance beam event in Rio. The journey to Rio required a lot of balance in her life, and not only on the beam.

Balance is an interesting word in the English language. It is used both as a noun and a verb, and these are often used interchangeably in our daily lives. For example, a business major may use balance as a noun when they are talking about adding balance to an investment portfolio. A kinesiology major may use balance as a verb when they are talking about an athlete balancing on one foot for an extended period of time as a type of strengthening exercise. Both are valid ways to use the word, but there is a third way to use the term: balance as an adjective.

Balance as an adjective allows one to describe things as being balanced, such as a balanced life. This is arguably the most important use of the word. When one is “balanced,” they are allotting a proportional amount of time to all the important aspects of their life. Balance is so much more than what can be described by a paraphrased definition from the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Living a balanced life is difficult, especially in college. There are a million different things diverting your time and attention every day like classes, sports, clubs, friends, homework, working, remembering to call home once in awhile … it all gets to be a little overwhelming. College is an important time to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you, but it’s also easy to get pulled into the depths of a busy schedule. Before you know it, you’re in over your head and drowning in your to-do list.

Now, this isn’t to say that having a busy schedule is bad. It’s important to make sure you are getting involved and being productive with your time. We all know people who take minimal credits, don’t get involved, and spend a lot of their free time wasted, and we all know people who are maxed out on credits, are involved in extracurricular activities numbering in the double digits, and don’t even have enough free time to sit down for a real meal during the day. Neither of these are healthy ways to spend your time. If you are the former type of person, I would definitely recommend getting involved on campus. You will get much more out of your college experience. If you are the latter type of person, finding balance is your calling card.

Finding balance is not easy. It’s something that everyone should aspire to find throughout their life. Some days you will be balanced, and some days you might fall short, but a life is defined as the average of all of these days. Especially in college, make sure you are devoting time to yourself, your friends and your family back home. It’s very easy to let one of these slide. If you spend too much time with your friends, you may start to mirror them and lose interest in the things that you as an individual like, but your friends aren’t involved in. If you spend too much time alone by yourself, you won’t feel happy or connected to the people closest to you. In both cases, you can’t forget about the people back home who have loved you since day one. So even though your life is busy, make sure you call home every once in a while. Your family may need it more than you.

Other than being connected, be smart about what you are getting involved in. It takes a lot of self-discipline to be successful with an uber-busy schedule. Many overachievers tend to fill empty spaces in their schedules with more and more until they can’t fit anything else into their day-to-day life. Some people can do it; most of us can’t. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful about balancing the important things in your life. Do homework in your free time during the day so you’re not up super late at night; if you’re getting overwhelmed, just do what you have to do for the next day; if you’re married to your daily planner, schedule in some “down time” for yourself every day. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

So just like the title of Laurie Hernandez’s autobiography “I Got This,” all of you Duhawks have got this too. Let’s make the 2017-2018 school year healthy and balanced.

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Audrey Miller is a writer for The Lorian.

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