J.Cole Made Me Write This: Are You Balancing School, Work, and Everything In Between? Here's How I Managed
I’ve always been able to juggle [school, music, basketball, and working] because I wanted all of these things...."
Those words were uttered by J.Cole from an interview he did with Tavis Smiley in 2015 that I ran across on Facebook. That was just the first half of the quote, though. It was the second half that got me excited to the point that I had to share it with you, but we will get to that part later.
His words resonated with me deeply. He reminded me and made it clear to me how and why I was able to successfully juggle multiple things at a certain point in my life.
What were they? I’ll tell now.
In May of 2013 I graduated from Houston Community College, and three months later I enrolled at the University of Houston-Downtown as a full time student (#GoGators). Simultaneously I had just started my internship at MJWJ Global Radio, after the internship ended I was offered a job as a full time board operator; I took the job. Mind you I was still working part time at the airport. I did all of this without really thinking anything of it.
At least not until...
family, friends, and co-workers started to take notice. As they did, they'd ask me questions like, "How do you do it?" "When do you have time to study?" "You don't get tired?" or "When do you have fun?" or they'd make statements such as: “I don't see how you do it." "You're going to wear yourself out."
Every time I would hear those questions/statements they would take me back to High School when one of my teachers told our class and I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember her exact words, but this is what she pretty much said, "You can't work a full time job and be a passing student." I remember feeling mad and saying to myself, "Yes you can." I wasn't quite sure that I or anyone could, but I was just mad that someone was telling me what I couldn't do. I have a little rebelliousness in me (smirks).
But she wasn't the reason why I took on all those things.
I mentioned that because I let doubt make its way into my mind, thus I started to question my ability. Maybe this is too much, what if I don't pass my classes? Maybe my high school teacher was right. All of that was going through my mind and it sucked because I hate when I start to let what other people say have influence over me. Especially when it's not for the betterment, but I quickly shook that off. I was a able to successfully juggle being a full time college student, work a part time, and full time job here's how:
I did a lot of that. There were times when things started to become overwhelming, grades got low and I wanted to quit my job. When those moments came I asked God to keep me mentally and physically able.
Schoolwork and fulfilling the duties of my jobs required a lot from me. For example, meeting deadlines for all four classes, and being an ideal employee (e.g. showing up on time, performing at an high level, and so on). I knew that if I would've just kept on going and going I'd eventually "break." I could not and would not let that happen. I love my sanity too much and had to protect it. God looked out for me.
When you're in the position like I was you are constantly on the go, which means you’re eating whatever is convenient, and most likely not getting proper rest (which I speak on later). I wasn't the most healthiest person or went to bed early every night, but I tried to make sure that I was physically and mentally able to keep up with my schedule. I realized that you have to, you can't just be here neglecting yourself.
I was determined to get my degree because like J.Cole, I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. I wanted to show them that it could be done, and I did. Glory.
This was a hard one for me. Nevertheless I set boundaries for when, Facebooked, Tweeted, and socialized. I would not get on these things or hang out until I was done with whatever I needed to get done that was school and work related. If someone called or texted me while I was studying or doing homework they usually didn't get a reply back until I was finished. I fell short a couple times, but for the most part I was pretty stern about not having distractions.
I adopted this thinking from Cal Newport. When my friends would be out socializing and having fun I was in the house doing schoolwork or at work. I wanted to be out with them so bad, but I also wanted to graduate and keep a roof over my head. So I had to prioritize and get comfortable with being bored.
Now that I’m out of school I socialize all I want, and realized that I wasn't missing much during those days I wanted to be out with them so bad.
I needed my rest. I went to bed at decent times to make sure that I was well rested. I use to go to sleep so early that one of my friends gave me the nickname, Granny. I didn't care because I knew that going to sleep early so that I could get at least seven hours in, was needed for me to perform well at school and at work. I loathe the feeling that comes from improper rest. I don't care what Kevin Gates (Welcome home by the way) or anybody say - being tired is not cool.
After J.Cole explained to Tavis Smiley why he was able juggle some many tasks he concluded his response by saying, "If you want something bad enough you'll find a way to make it happen." It was part that struck me because I found a way(s) to make it happen by what I call, strategizing and prioritizing. Basically doing all five of those things I mentioned above. Your way of making it happen may or may not look like mine or like J.Cole’s who was driven by a deep desire. To me, that’s the beauty of it.
I'm not saying you should listen to J.Cole who graduated Sum Cum Lade, or little ol' me who graduated Cum Lade. But if you did find something in this article that you can implement in your life, good. Also, know that whatever you want to accomplish in life can be done, just find a way that works for you and make it happen. Be wise about it.