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We all try to juggle work, sleep, and a social life. But can a person really have it all?
"Work. Sleep. Social life. Pick two.”
I stumbled upon this motto one morning as I sleepily fumbled around the web, sipping a steaming mug of dark-roast coffee, in a desperate attempt to artificially recoup some sleep.
At first I chuckled. And then I sighed. It was true; it’s impossible to do it all, and to do it all well.
Anyone who knows me would think I’m a triple-threat in the Department of Eat, Sleep, Work and Be Merry.
The reality is that I’m not. I’m a dedicated juggler, a passable multitasker, a chronic perfectionist and a steadfast workaholic; I subconsciously picked consistently working and enjoying a social life as my two university experiences.
Adequate sleep was the proverbial “icing on the cake” when it did come around. I’m the first to admit, this lifestyle doesn’t promote wellness of body, mind, and spirit. However, as many of us know, when you are a student nowadays, something’s got to give in the rat-race that’s filled with competitive GPAs, vigorous post-graduate programs, and scarce job offers.
During my four years at Queen’s, I worked extremely hard to maintain a strong academic record while participating in student leadership activities. In 2009, I became chronically ill with a connective tissue inflammation, which led to frustration and the desire in me to change the perception that all young people are the complete picture of health. When I founded InvisAbilities (invisabilities.org) – an organization dedicated to promoting awareness, education, and support of young adults who are living with chronic, invisible illnesses such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, lupus, and Crohn’s disease – I had no idea that my “little” idea would turn into something almost larger-than-life.
InvisAbilities quickly gained momentum when students, faculty and the University administration pledged their support for my disability-related initiative. I was thrilled, but, quite honestly, I was also somewhat shocked and a bit overwhelmed. How would I maintain my grades, coordinate this new group’s activities, keep up with friends, attend endless doctors’ appointments, and manage to comprehend all of these ongoing health issues?
I’m the type of person who carries through on my word. If I say I’m going to do something, there’s no stopping me. However, trying to be a committed student, volunteer and friend took its toll. Surviving four years of university required a creative and disciplined approach in order to “do it all.” I started finding alternative ways to cope with my busy schedule.
Multitasking is a difficult art, but I made it work to the best of my ability. I would squeeze in fitness while catching up with a friend, take a book everywhere I went to fit in 10 extra minutes of my course readings, fold InvisAbilities brochures while skyping with my family, and attend large social gatherings so I could see lots of friends at one time.
However, I have to admit that I still haven’t found the perfect way to go about this continuous juggling act. I did manage to keep most of the balls in the air most of the time, even if I did drop one every now and then.
I truly believe that the key to staying sane while maintaining a packed schedule is to remind yourself that no one is superhuman. Sure, we may drop a ball once in a while, but that doesn’t mean we’re not great jugglers. As a new alumna of Queen’s and recipient of an Arts and Science Undergraduate Society Scholarship, I was deeply honoured when the University acknowledged my efforts to live each “25-hour” day to the fullest.
Julie, who now lives in Oakville, Ontario, reports she’s taking the year off from her studies as she continues “to expand the work of InvisAbilities, and to do a bit of traveling.” – Ed.