This post was inspired by something that was graffitied onto Duke’s East Campus bridge. The graffiti was part of a service project where students could paint about what they want to do or accomplish before they graduate. Someone wrote, “Find a balance.”
I don’t know who painted it, but frankly it doesn’t matter because anyone could have painted it. Because we all want to find a balance.
We want to find a balance between school and social life.
We want to find a balance between fostering new friends and investing in old friends.
We want to find a balance between being healthy and splurging.
We want to find a balance between YOLO-ing and getting our shit done.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re never gonna find that balance. Because it doesn’t exist.
(You’re now about to stop reading this because my blog is supposed to be encouraging and that was incredibly depressing. But I promise it gets better…)
Life is a roller coaster and roller coasters don’t have balances. They have highs and lows and comfortable spots, but there’s no balance. There’s no point where everything feels perfectly balanced, because up ahead there’s a giant incline with a drop soon to follow.
To flesh out this metaphor, let’s take a short look at my life.
Growing up, things were great with my family. We fought, but we loved each other. We had our rough days, but we all supported each other and were truly a family. Then my freshman year my dad had a heart attack and almost died. It shook our family up quite a bit and I thought I was going to lose my role model.
First semester senior year I felt on top of the world. I had a solid group of friends, I was involved in everything that I even remotely had a passion for, I was super healthy, I had great grades, and I was accepted to colleges. Then I got mono, missed school, gained fourteen pounds, became super emotionally unstable, and wanted to give up.
My sophomore year I had an amazing boyfriend. He went out of his way to make me feel loved and I was on cloud nine. After a year and a half, we fell apart.
I don’t write all of this to say that every time something good happens, something bad is going to happen. I write this to say that life is full of tons of ups and downs.
On the outside, it may seem like I’ve found a balance. I get up in the morning, I dress up, I go to class, I study, I eat, I hang out with my friends. But there’s a difference between going through the motions and finding a balance. And there’s a difference between finding a balance and being flexible.
I haven’t found a balance. I’ve found flexibility. And that, my friends, is something you can find.
Flexibility is having to change your schedule because your friend just really needs a hug right now.
Flexibility is realizing you just really need to take a nap even though you said you were going to work on an assignment.
Flexibility is deciding that you’re overcommitted.
Flexibility is a way to cope with life’s ups and downs.
It’s not easy for Type A people like myself, who like to plan out every minute and stick to the schedule at all costs. But if you really want to put up a good fight against this thing called Life then you just have to find it.
But how do you find it? I found it the hard way because I resisted it. I didn’t agree to anything that wasn’t within my realm, or my strict schedule, or my free time frame. I didn’t step outside my comfort zone. I didn’t take risks. I didn’t find flexibility for a while, because I wasn’t truly living.
Take a chance with life. Do something crazy and entirely out of your comfort zone. Because in that you’ll live and you’ll find flexibility. And then you’ll know that you’ll never find a balance, but that at least you’re living.
I found flexibility by coming to Duke. It was entirely out of my comfort zone. It was a huge leap of faith. It was scary and different from everything I knew. It was hard. There have been many ups, but many downs, too.
But this is my home. And this is where I truly live. And I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.