It’s 8 o’clock on a Monday morning, and the air carries the crispness of the impending autumn, even though it’ll be much warmer in a few hours—summer hasn’t quite given up the fight yet. I’m on my way to Caesar Rodney to get some breakfast, a much-needed cup of coffee, and a bit of work done before my first class, which doesn’t start for another hour or so.

It’s a Friday night, and I’m with my friend, watching old episodes of Spongebob Squarepants on a little TV in her dorm room in Redding. We talk and laugh and quote all the lines we know by heart—after all, we grew up watching this cartoon. There’s a container of peanut M&Ms open to snack on, and my favorite fuzzy blanket is wrapped around me like a shawl. In this moment, our worries about grades and upcoming exams fade away, just for a little while.

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I knew that coming to college would mean a different lifestyle than I was used to. I might not be too far from home, but there’s still a greater level of independence than ever before. But part of being away from home and having to manage your own time, all by yourself, is finding balance. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, it’s not too late to find it, either! Maybe you haven’t quite found a good way to juggle extracurriculars and a full schedule with honors classes. And having friends. And eating. Oh, yeah, don’t forget sleeping. Especially for us freshmen, it can be a little overwhelming to be in a place with so many opportunities—where do you even begin, and how do you keep your priorities straight?

There’s a few important things that go into finding balance, and I have been trying to keep these in mind as I find my place here at UD.

  1. Stay organized! I’ve always been a fan of using planners, because I can’t trust my brain to remember all twenty-seven things I have to do on a given day. College has made me love planners even more. This goes for keeping your dorm tidy, too. I personally find that I don’t work or relax as well if it looks like a tornado tore through my room.
  2. Do what you love! Try out different activities and clubs around campus, but commit yourself to what you truly love doing. This applies to extracurriculars, social activities, and academics, too. Find joy and purpose in what you’re doing, and it won’t feel like work. Don’t know what you love yet? That’s okay! People are always saying that college is the perfect time to find yourself. I still don’t entirely know how I want to get involved, but I know that I do.
  3. It’s a journey best walked with others! In the midst of life, don’t forget to make the time to have lunch with your roommates, watch movies with your friends, and call your loved ones (no, it’s not lame to talk to your parents often, I promise!). Reaching out and spending time with others is honestly one of the best things to do when you don’t feel like you can juggle things alone.
  4. Be okay with making sacrifices. You can’t always do everything you want to do or be everywhere you want to be. But there will always be at least one opportunity you can pursue. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you’re doing what you want to be doing, but not at the expense of your health or happiness.
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