It is finally the most dreaded (yet exciting) time of the year.
Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday school finished, and now we are back so soon? Summer really flew by.
Whether or not school is your favorite thing, it is most likely an immensely prominent aspect of your life, meaning that you have to learn to make it work. As you grow older and navigate through school (especially in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade), it feels like a lot more is at stake. Not just academically, but socially as well.
It’s difficult to find a balance between your academic and social life since they both, for the most part, stem from the same place: school.
As school becomes more crucial, your social life changes and grows as well. Parties, studying, hanging out, homework, all of it can just become one big jumble of stress, especially if you are an introvert like myself and parties don’t come easily (I will elaborate further on what I mean by this below.)
So. . . the golden question is: how can I do well in school while maintaining my social life? In other words, how can I find balance? You don’t want to overwork yourself until you break down, but you also don’t want to neglect school.
So, without further ado, here are my top tips for balancing your social and academic lives (especially when you are an upperclassman).
Listen to yourself, not outside pressure or FOMO
The title pretty much explains itself. It is completely normal to feel pressured by friends or peers (whether that’s their intention or not) to attend social gatherings. This could mean a big party, a small get-together, or even just one on one time with your friend. If you are invited on one of those days where you are feeling stressed, exhausted, or otherwise, don’t feel pressure to say yes! It is okay to turn down some social events and you will thank yourself for it later, trust me.
Although the fear of missing out is difficult to manage, it is incredibly important that you put yourself first and focus on your needs before responding to social stresses or pressures.
Know when to prioritize school (and that it should be prioritized)
As much as it is hard to hear, school, when you are a sophomore or especially a junior or senior, is crucial and oftentimes should be prioritized over social gatherings. I’m not saying that you should become a hermit, but it is important to evaluate the cost-benefit of going out. For example, if you want to hang out with some friends after school, the benefit could be that you get to relax and the cost could be that you don’t get in enough studying for a test you have tomorrow. In the end, it is up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.
You cannot have a healthy academic life without a healthy mental state
In other words, use social gatherings as a way to de-stress and relax! Firstly, keep in mind that “healthy” and “successful” are two very different things. When I was a sophomore, my academic life was successful but my mental health was completely down the drain. School is not the end-all-be-all and it shouldn’t control all aspects of your life. This is part of what makes socializing such an essential. It ensures that you at least get a modicum of time to take your mind off of school and relax instead of feeling constantly surrounded by academic stress.
Let socializing be your way to de-stress and try to put together the most anxiety-free get togethers as possible as a way to chill and get your mind off of academics. There is always a time and a place to put academics over socializing but there are also times to prioritize socializing, especially when you need a break.
The best way to get the best of both worlds is to have both worlds merge!
Host study parties with friends, do your group projects out at a restaurant! If you manage to combine your social and academic life, you will be able to return home after the gathering feeling perfectly satisfied.
This is also a good way to romanticize school, or, in other words, enjoy it more. Studying with friends instead of cooped up alone in your room is a way to make studying fun, which means that, hopefully, you’ll want to do it more.
In the end, there are many more tips than just these and it all depends on what balance means to you. For some, it could mean placing priority on the social side of school and for others, it means focusing more on academics. What matters is that you are able to get the best of both worlds. This essentially means that you can do well in school while still getting copious (or at least passable) amounts of social interaction.