Balancing Work and Family Life as an Adult College Student : A Personal Reflection

Written By Miracle Hawkins, Contributing Writer

5/27/21

So much is happening in the world right now and a lot of it is out of our control. Despite all the challenges caused by the pandemic, the clock continues to tick, and the world continues to revolve. I still must show up for work, I still have classes to attend and papers to submit. Most importantly, I have a family that I care about but also often worry about due to the current state of the world. All these aspects of my life genuinely matter to me, and I am sure that is true for those of you reading this. However, I must admit that this balancing act is becoming more and more difficult to sustain.  

I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Clinical Social Work with a concentration in School Social Work. I am also a Mental Health Professional for an agency that works with children and adults who have mental health diagnoses such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and so forth. As a full-time student and counselor, there is always a lot on my to-do lists. My to-do list includes things such as reading for class, researching for an upcoming paper, cleaning the kitchen, paying the water bill, emailing my supervisor back, calling a client, working at the internship, buying a birthday card, and having Zoom calls with family. The list goes on and on. As a matter of fact, I have more than just one list. I have some things written on paper and some things listed in the Notes app on my phone. Creating my to-do lists is not hard at all. It is crossing things off and being able to throw the list in the trash at the end of the day that proves to be challenging. That is the part that is the most challenging because it requires strategic planning and timing. 

This is just a little snippet of what it feels like to be an adult student who is trying to balance both family and work life. The truth is that there are many demands and deadlines that we are expected to meet while still maintaining our own physical and mental health. Even though these different aspects of our lives are important, we should feel safe in admitting that it is hard. Truthfully, our professors and supervisors should also know what it feels like to balance so much and sacrifice so much in order to accomplish your goals.

Until today, I have often minimized the work I have put into balancing a full-time job as a full-time student because I did not want to come off as ungrateful or as a complainer. That is not the tone of this article as I am very thankful for the career and educational opportunities that have been placed in front of me. The goal of this article is to connect with those who can relate to my experience as a young adult college student. I want to shed light on the challenges we face and admit that sometimes everything is not ok.

I want to encourage readers to evaluate your values and ensure that your time is being spent on things that align with those values. God, health, family, education, and stability are all things that I value and believe are most important for my life. Understanding our values gives us insight into whether something needs to be let go. It is very common for us to take on many things without setting boundaries. Not only is it ok for us to admit things get tough, it should also be ok for us to say no.

Published by Counseling With Leslie

Leslie Stevens, M.Ed., LCMHC is a North Carolina and Virginia board-certified licensed professional counselor. She co-owns a successful practice in Carrboro, North Carolina. Leslie specializes in helping adults navigate stress, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism. Additionally, she is a life strategist, spiritual coach, and writer.

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