The recurring theme of the past nine months of my life has been this idea of work-life balance. I went into Challenge knowing I would be taking on a lot, but I was optimistic it would be more rewarding than overwhelming. I went from 50 hour weeks spread Monday through Friday, to 50 hour weeks spread Monday through Thursday, with Challenge on Fridays. I also began my Master’s program at Wayne State. I often am at my desk before 8 am and leaving well after 9 pm. It has been an incredibly busy year, but I do not think I have ever learned as much or experienced as much growth in such a short amount of time. Drawing back on the idea of work-life balance, I have gained a lot of perspective on what works for me and how I can remain sane while still striving towards my goals.

1. Being kind to myself. This has been a big learning lesson for me and has taken many shapes over the last year. I am the type of person that feels like they have to do everything, be everywhere, and hit every type of internal goal I set for myself. Over the last year, I have dropped the ball in my personal life, with school, with work and Challenge. I have stopped beating myself up over those things and instead taken a step back to make sure they do not become patterns. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when a lot is going on, and I think that is ok, but it is important to prioritize yourself and your emotions.

2. Quality over quantity. This has become my new mantra in my personal life. I do not have the time to always be there with my friends for happy hours or the movies. Instead, I have had a lot more hangouts where I can talk to my friends or family face-to-face and catch up. I actually feel like my friendships with my close friends and relationships with my family have improved over this last year.

3. Make time to be alone. Especially doing things I enjoy. This has taken shape in Riverwalk treks with my headphones on and the world tuned out, reading books that are not for school and a few great Netflix binges. I am an introverted person and really need that time to decompress, but I often need to remind myself of this.

I cannot claim to be an expert in work-life balance as I do tend to overload work, but I do feel like have improved this last year in enjoying the ‘life’ portion a little more fully. Looking back, I can definitively say that these past nine months have much more rewarding than overwhelming.