Routine and the Never-Ending Quest for Balance

I had lunch with a good friend of mine yesterday, and I realized that I hadn’t had a legitimate conversation with him since before classes started, despite the fact that we live within a 5 minute walk of one another and have a large mutual friend group. Talking to him felt almost nostalgic, and took me back to times freshman year when I was so welcome in his room I might as well have been one of the roommates. And then I realized there are other friends I actually haven’t talked to except in passing since last semester. I have only seen/hung out with one of my 6 ex-roommates in the last three weeks. There are some very good friends of mine on this campus with whom I only interact via Facebook. What kind of friend am I? When did this happen to me? And how?

And then I realized that I basically do the same thing every day. I wake up, I go to Quad, I go to class (if it’s one of the three days I have class), I go back to Quad, repeat the previous two steps as often as necessary until dinnertime, eat dinner, chill at Quad, and then if it’s a work day, go to work. If not, be at Quad until it’s time to go to bed, lest I have a meeting or something that requires I be elsewhere. 

That means I see Quad people. And people who are in my classes. And occasionally people who are in the same non-Quad clubs as me. And…basically no one else. 

How did I used to see people? Ah, we used to eat together in dining halls, and who you were eating with was a big deal. There would be texts and agreements and waiting. It was kind of a big to-do. But those days are over. And most of the friends I never ever see aren’t in eating clubs, so eating with them would require using one of my two guest meals a month (which go SO FAST) or…going to a dining hall. That’s only really cute for breakfast/brunch, haha. 

But…I guess I’m going to have to start going to dining halls. Or find out what my friends from my life before Quad do with their free time and start doing that with them. Once upon a time I just sat in people’s living rooms and chatted. I…miss my friends. I don’t want to lose people BEFORE graduation (or after either, but that seems less feasible…).

This makes me wonder what else I’m missing out on due to my routine. Not only seeing my friends, and all the laughs and thought-provoking conversations we might have had, but perhaps developing other friendships further, perhaps certain events or outings, perhaps…I’m not sure, but I think it’s interesting that that which makes us happy may also be working directly against other routes to happiness. There are no takebacks for time passed, and thus doing something you love works directly against opportunities to do other things you might love. Conversations you have and time you spend with one person can bring you great joy, but are simultaneously preventing you from spending time with someone else. Can there be room for spontaneity within a daily routine? 

I suppose what I’m struggling with here is balance. It seems like that will be the keyword of my senior year. Balance. 

It’s fall break and I’ve done work every single day, but even now I can’t find the right balance between work for class and work for thesis and work related to seeking future employment. I wanted to get so much more done than I’ve gotten done, but I can only keep thesis-ing through tonight, or I won’t finish my reading for next week’s classes. I want to implement thesis Fridays Friday mornings/early afternoons to help keep me working on long-term goals as I meet short-term requirements, but I don’t know if that plus breaks is enough for this semester. And I’m good about getting applications with established deadlines in a few days before they’re due, but what about positions that are “open until filled” or have rolling deadlines? I wish I could take like, a 24-hour period off to just tweak cover letters and send my cover letter and resume to all the jobs that just require that, but there always seem to be more pressing concerns. Balance.
I’m taking four classes right now, because I thought it would be better to front-load my senior year so that in the Spring I’d have a very light classwork-load and could devote two or even three days a week to Thesis. That was a great plan, until the Course Offerings list came out and there are WAY TOO MANY AWESOME-SOUNDING CLASSES for me to pick just two. I’ve whittled my list down from 12-ish to three classes that I feel like I absolutely have to be in, but…I only need two. Now, I could drop this class I’m in now that I never go to and am not at all invested in, but am currently getting an A- in. The class has two more papers and an exam, though, so that current A- doesn’t mean much. And if I dropped it, I could devote the time I’ve been devoting to doing those readings/Blackboard posts/papers/studying to thesis this semester…but I’ll have dropped a class I’m getting an A in. And is three semi-intense but REALLY REALLY INTERESTING classes senior spring a good idea anyway? Didn’t I want to finish my thesis and then get drunk every day? Balance.


My friendships with people I’ve known my whole life are taking the backseat to my friendships with Princetonians as we all get pulled in different directions. It’s so easy for each of us to just lose ourselves in school and work and those networks of people–when we hang out, like I did with two of my pre-Princeton besties last night, everything is great, but we can lose each other in the meantime. I realized last night that I haven’t even told T or S about my mom being sick, whereas K and E hear about how scared I am all the time. (K even looked up some info about it on the internet, since he’s doing cancer research for his thesis and knows way more than I do. He’s a sweetheart.) Balance.


When I used to play Tony Hawk Playstation games in high school (I want none of your judgment), I used to try to rack up these sick combos by doing a bunch of flips in the air and then landing into a grind on a railing or a fence or the top of a ramp or something. And I remember there was like, this little meter that would appear on top of your character when you were grinding, to represent how you were balanced, and there was a green zone of safety and red zones of death (well, falling and losing your combo score) when you leaned too far to either side. I need to find a way to lean to that I’m in the green on all of my meters. Because right now it’s Fall Break and I took exactly one night off to chill and have fun. Right now my shoulders are always tense and I can’t quite seem to loosen up. I need Balance.

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About alaiyo0685

I'm a kind of quirky, pretty stubborn, way too opinionated, twenty-something, intellectual, introspective, queer, Black, female, in a polyamorous relationship, and this is where I try to figure out my life.

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