Balance vital to success

(Graphic by Adele Palmwuist)When I was 16 years old I learned the most valuable word in the English language. It was exposed during my orientation for becoming a counselor in training (CIT) at the camp I had gone to for the past nine years. Huddled at an indoor volleyball court we were told to sit as our coordinator stood to introduce himself.

I was impatient and uncomfortable with the wet sand getting in between my toes and ruining my new pair of jeans. I didn’t care what he had to say, I just wanted to eat pizza and mingle with my friends. But the moment he started talking we all focused in on him. “Guys, I have come up with our motto this upcoming summer, Balance” he announced. We giggled when he asked us to acknowledge the word and incorporate it into our staff positions. Little did I know this “motto” was going to become the motto of my life.

The word “balance” was one I had always utilized during my childhood. It was the word that prevented me from messing up my pirouettes during dance rehearsals or made me able to get down the ski slopes without wiping out.

Balance was just a physical word added on to my activities. But my coordinator wasn’t focused on whether or not I could balance while turning across a dance floor, he meant something much bigger. I didn’t think it had much meaning or importance to my life other than the physics of my own gravity.

That all changed when I got to university. Balance became the word that defined the biggest challenge that I would earn besides my degree. I used that word to help me make sure that I got enough groceries to feed myself while maintaining good hygiene.

It taught me to juggle my courses while making sure I reconnected with my friends and family. It helped comfort friends who were sobbing and needed help because they were scared or felt insecure. It was the word that finally got me out of my bed after suffering a terrible anxiety attack. In fact, it gets me out of my bed every single day of my life and wanting to move forward.

The scariest part of acknowledging the importance of this word is not knowing how to utilize it fully. It’s more valuable than your university degree. It’s the connection and struggle you try to handle as you take on more responsibility. It’s the balance of learning, of being social, setting goals, love and trying to get a hold on your life.

That’s what we must learn when we are shipped off to our campuses and immersed in academia, living and experiencing new chapters in our life. It’s how we handle ourselves and try to figure out that balance.

I have yet to master this word and confidently say that I know how to balance. No one knows how to do it; we’re just trying to figure it out, one life lesson at a time.
Since that summer, I have never seen my coordinator nor ever thanked him for teaching me the most important word I have carried with me throughout my life.  If only I knew then, as I wiped off the wet sand off my pants, grabbed a slice of pizza and laughed with my friends as we were getting ready for our big summer term as the “CITs of 2006”, that his motto has saved and shaped my life.

Instead, I carry it now and remember that even in the scariest moments of our lives, everything is going to be okay. We just need to learn how to balance it better.

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