Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Being Realistic in College

The idea of "balancing writing with life" has been on my mind a lot lately. Spring semester started up about a month ago, which accounts for the unfortunate and sudden silence around this blog. I really feel bad for you guys because I know it always sucks when a blog you like goes all awkward silence.

Thing is, I knew this was coming.

I have been resigned to not blogging much during semesters, but it still sucks. Especially when new people follow me. (Hello! Welcome! I'm cyberhugging you all!) I even got a blog award. (Kate, extra cyberhugs for you!)

As bad as I feel about this, as much as I wish I could set aside three hours each weekend to blogging, I can't. Thank you muchly, but unrealistic goals and expectations aren't my thing anymore.

I'm into my fourth semester now as a Web Design major. I have good grades, a couple honors, and am on track to graduate by the end of this semester. I went into my first semester writing a novel, finished it, took a break off, then began editing the last two. So for almost two years straight I've been writing and editing. Trying to do this required a lot of prioritizing on my part.

Finding the balance has been hard.

People are always looking for ways to balance writing with everything else life throws at them. And I've learned it boils down to is being realistic. Not idealistic, but simply coming to grips with my time, my limitations, what's important to me.

See, I don’t have a job. In past semesters I have gone months without visiting friends. I’ve given up Facebook for long stretches of time. I’ve given up all TV, all movies, all reading.

College is a commitment.

I think that if you're going to go to college--and this is just my opinion--you need to really take that on as a responsibility. Anyone who takes economics will know that education is investing in yourself. A big investment. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth.

So going to college and not trying to get your money's worth out of it is like deciding to invest $70k in stocks, but not doing the research, not following the ups and downs of the stock market, and making bad decisions as a result. You'll have a lot less money next time you decide to invest. When I'm at college, it's my job. It's top priority.

But I’m a writer, shouldn’t that be my job?

I heard Veronica Roth, another young writer and recent college graduate, put it this way on her
blog: when she was in college, she decided to make writing her top priority. She saw writing as her job. And so, she dedicated time to her novel: wrote it, edited, got an agent. Her book is being published this year. On her blog she says,

"And I think you should prioritize being a person-- being healthy, sleeping, resting, hanging out with friends, exploring the world-- even at the expense of your grades. For me, part of being a person was writing."

The effort she put into being a student was enough to do well, but she found real success in the career she valued most--writing.

I think she's a really helpful contrast to my own choices and decisions. We both found a way to balance our life with writing. Obviously, we both got more success in the area we prioritized highest. She admits in her blog post to regretting some of those missed opportunities. I'll admit that I regret my novel isn't the one coming out in May.

This is where being realistic comes in.

The thing I'd like to point out is that we were both honest about what we could and couldn't handle. Veronica says,
"I did work hard, attend class, and maintain good grades. But: I also figured out exactly what was necessary to be in good standing in any given class and did only that. "

For me, being realistic meant committing to college and the few highest priorities in my life: my writing. My spiritual walk as a Christian. My family and the dear friends who are my support group. Everything else, from blogging, to Facebook, to work, to shopping, to reading fiction, are things I indulge in when opportunity arises.

But I don’t stress about those things. I'm the kind of person who wants to commit fully to things, and if I was Super-Writer-Student-Employee-Girl, then I would. I'm not super though. I'm just me. This semester in particular I have realized how important it is not to make myself miserable trying to fit everything in. Life becomes survival at that point. I want to enjoy life, and grow and learn, and write.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Truly and always,
-Creative A


FantasticFiction said...

Yes. And not only college. I'm in High School (home schooled), I work as a division manager, I play competitive athletics, I paint, I play three instruments daily...Eeek! I find time to write too. I just sleep less :)

Creative A said...

High five for home-schoolers! I remember those days. I spent most of them writing (nostalgic sigh) And yeah, the other thing I'm learning is that needing to balance things never ends...just shifts with different situations.


Matthew Rush said...

I run my blog while maintaining a 50 hour a week day job, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be while going to school, with all the studying, lab time, and out of class assignments.

Don't feel obligated to do more than you can.

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