Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School. Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year. This is her third installment. Click here to see the others.
Hello there and thank you for coming back for my third blog post! I have been enjoying the beginning of my break from school for Thanksgiving, and I hope that the unofficial beginning of the winter holiday season has been kind to all the readers out there. I am still entrenched in schoolwork and preparations for my quickly approaching future. I have been accepted to three of the schools to which I have applied, and even received my scholarship offer for one, should I choose to attend that school; I have two applications still left to complete, and four more currently awaiting a decision. This past weekend I attended a musical production at an area high school, spent a night with my close friends, performed at my high school’s open house as a member of the Vocal Jazz ensemble, and went on a tour of the Erie City Mission with my youth group, which I plan to describe in more detail as a part of my next blog post.
Now that I’ve written all that out, it seems like a lot. I did have a lot of activity going on that weekend, but to say that it was abnormally busy would be stretching the truth. The same can be said of the vast majority of my friends and peers at my high school, who supplement their already challenging academic workloads with extracurriculars such as sports, theater, music, and community or religious service activities. Though the topic of this post is particularly relevant to teens and youth, especially in the midst of the ever-hectic holiday season, I think that is relevant to all ages: describing my ongoing quest to create a balanced life in an often unbalanced world.
The search for balance is a constant topic of discussion on social levels ranging from international to interpersonal to explicitly personal: the balance of a particular country’s involvement in the affairs of others; work-life balance; for many students, it can mean finding a balance between school and additional activities that allows them to complete all their assignments while still making time for jobs, friends, and the things in life that they enjoy. Finding the “perfect” balance would mean being able to realistically achieve these goals without having to feel stressed or worried about whether they would get done. If such a perfect balance exists, I am sad to report that I have yet to find it, and unfortunately, I know few people who might say that they have, either.
One of the most useful pieces of advice concerning this subject came from my father; I think he may have first said it to me while I was in middle school, but it has only become more relevant as I’ve gotten older. I was fretting about the amount of work I had to complete for school the next day; I wanted everything to be done perfectly even at that age, and on that particular day I was worried that my standard of perfection wasn’t going to be attainable. My father, in his often understated wisdom, said to me something along the lines of: “You have to realize that there are the things that you have to do well, and the things that you just need to get done.”
There is only so much time in each day in which to do all the things I need to do or that I feel I need to do, and to be able to complete them all—not even thinking of their quality—requires some serious budgeting of time. And, as always, in addition to the necessities that feel like chores—school, homework, college application essays, cleaning the bathrooms every weekend, and such—there are other personal necessities to be attended to, such as finding the time to hang out with friends, practice my guitar, read a novel, or write a short story. My break from school for Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up on all of these (as well as sleep) with less interruption than usual. What I didn’t factor in, however, was that the holiday offered its own set of distractions; my brother came home from college, so I’ve been spending more time with him, as well as with both my immediate and extended family. I attended a church service with my father on Thanksgiving morning and was privileged to be in the company of members of our regular congregation as well as several visiting clergy. My mother and I ventured to the mall to unofficially begin our Christmas shopping. I didn’t plan for any of these activities to interrupt my usual schedule, but I don’t regret spending the time it took to do any of them.
I think that is the most important lesson I’ve learned in my ongoing effort to balance my life: the perfect balance looks different for every day of the year. Some days are harder to get through than others, when everything I do feels like work; others feel like a relief, when the most pressing thing I have to do is enjoy the company of the people around me. Thankfully, most days have at least a little bit of both, and if that’s the best shot at “balance” that I have right now, then I’ll take it.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post and maybe even received a bit of helpful advice; feel free to leave any comments below and enjoy the start of the winter season!