You can’t do better than your best

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Finding balance in life is important, but make sure not to fall over the edge  

Being a student is stressful. You have classes to think about and all of the work that comes with them. You likely have a job on the side. Not to mention, you have a social life, a family, hobbies, maybe a sport or some form of exercise you like to do to unwind and de-stress. There’s so much going on in our lives—how can we balance it all?

There’s no easy answer to this. In fact, there isn’t one. Someone once told me: “You can’t do better than your best,” and I think that’s the best motto to live by, not just as a student but for the rest of your life. There will be times when you’ll be so overwhelmed that one aspect of your life might have to take a hit, be it your sleep schedule, job or social life. If you try to get everything done perfectly, your health—either physical or mental—will be affected. It’s important to know your limits so you don’t push yourself to the point of a nervous breakdown (they aren’t pleasant).

I’m well aware that school is important. I’ve been an A student most of my life; I know the pressure that comes with maintaining good grades and being the best you can be. The thing is, though, many aspects in our lives are so much more difficult than they were in high school or CEGEP. University is harder. We’re adults with responsibilities now. We have a lot more going on in our lives. It might not be as feasible to expect A’s on every assignment or exam in every class.

It’s okay if you get a C on an assignment you worked really hard on. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for doing our best. We’re often too focused on the final grade instead of the effort we put in. It’s important to remember your worth as a person is not defined by your grades, and a handful of C’s won’t ruin your career. Make time for friends and family, because they are the ones who will be there for you when school is out for the summer, and when you finally graduate. They’re the ones who will help you have fun and relieve your stress when you need it the most.

Don’t forget to leave time for hobbies when you’re busy, because they can help you unwind and relax. Fitness, for example, can directly impact your health and stress levels in a positive way, and it’s important to make time for exercise if you enjoy it. Those few hours a week effortlessly doing what you love will help clear your mind at the end of a stressful week, or between the last-minute grinds of final projects.

Don’t forget to work on yourself too. Take a break when you get tired, call up your family when you get lonely, sleep all day if you need to, take a bath, do yoga or kickboxing, go for coffee with a friend. It’s so important to give your mind time to recuperate from the constant stress and thinking.

By reminding myself that I can’t do better than my best, I’ve learned to better understand my limitations, to know when it’s time to take a break and regroup. I am and always have been a perfectionist; anyone who knows me also knows I always put too much on my plate. I like everything to be organized and perfect. Yet, I’ve realized and learned that I can’t control everything. I’ve learned how to make time for myself. I’m now able to say no to certain things to avoid spreading myself too thin.

It’s okay not to be 100 per cent all the time, as long as you’re doing your best and taking care of yourself. You can’t always balance everything; but remember things will always balance themselves out in the end.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


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