I graduated with a BA in Literature with only two other course mates. Our graduating class had 1,500 students. If that didn’t automatically categorize me under the “minority”, I don’t know what else will.
Just like every other fresh grad, I was welcomed by good ‘ol unemployment. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly enjoyed the slightly longer vacation, though.
I wasn’t too keen on finding a full-time job because my parents were always away; I had a sister I chauffeured for and babysat that was a decade younger than me, and a grandmother to check on at home. Half my loyalties lay with my family
I was also pursuing my master’s degree. So I opted for the part-time positions with flexible hours.
Because of the multiple responsibilities that came along with it, I learned to prioritize like crazy.
SCHEDULE + ROUTINE = CONSISTENCY
I became a pro at killing two birds with one stone. Mornings meant I had to get both me and my sister ready for school and work. After dropping her off at school, any errands that I could do as I went along, like paying the bills and buying a few grocery items, were accomplished.
Then for about five to six hours, I worked.
My classes were usually in the late afternoons and evenings, so I had just enough time to take my sister back home, check on grandma, and make it to class on time.
Days where I had no class were usually spent with friends and catching up on homework.
This routine gave me a sense of structure without making myself a slave to it. Knowing what I had to do beforehand and being at peace with the fact that my work hours were adjustable, gave me confidence that every item on my to-do list would be ticked off.
FINE LINES AND DEADLINES
Although work allowed for flexible hours, the deadlines remained unchangeable and were usually final. Where, how or when I worked was irrelevant as long as I reached the quota or met the given deadlines.
This applied to both work and school.
Discipline became my best friend and temptations became my biggest opponent. Unsettled deadlines meant I was to be held accountable for my actions.
This meant regular efforts of putting time in regularly for my homework, research or projects. Moving on from an accomplished task undoubtedly felt like a much deserved reward.
I realized that I had to make time for the urgent, and find time for the important. They weren’t synonymous after all.
(Along) with( the) great power (of freedom), comes responsibility.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Maybe I did get jealous of my co-graduates who were able to grab full-time work positions, but all that resentment disappeared when I’d hear them complain about the long work hours, missing their family and the stress.
Flexibility of work hours felt like a luxury. I could always adjust my work time to whatever was most convenient for me a majority of the times.
Being a part-time employee gave me ample time to cater to my personal endeavors, errands and escapades without compromising my work responsibilities. I had more time to pursue activities outside of work.
I have balance in my life. I had time to do all that was required of me and I was basically able to treat everything like a main concern. I didn’t suffer from sleep loss. In fact, I even got to squeeze in naps every other afternoon.
Whoever said you couldn’t balance school, work, family and social life was wrong. It’s just a matter of understanding that you can’t always do everything and everything – or sacrificing little things to make way for (and enjoying) the bigger moments.
The art of prioritizing helped me systematize numerous aspects of my life that I didn’t even realize needed polishing.
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