Balance versus Perfectionism in College

The decision to return to college for a second Masters degree, this time in Religious Studies, meant, for me, that I would complete it in two years. To meet this goal meant attending college full-time, which required I take three classes, or nine hours, a semester. Last semester, I took a full load, and although I did well in each class, I ended the semester so tired and frazzled that I am still exhausted.

Douglas had asked me to attend part-time, but that seemed too namby-pamby for me. But, something happened this week that made me reevaluate my stance, particularly as I was still determined to earn all A’s.

On the first day of class for the third class I registed to attend, we were asked to include in our introductions what we planned to do with our degree after graduation. I listened to the young people speak of jobs and graduate svhool of some type. When it was my time, I sheepishly stated that I was back in school for something to do other than binge Britbox and Acorn offerings in Roku. It felt like the other students and the professor looked at me as if to say, “Why are you taking up space here?” I think that in my embarrassment, maybe that was me projecting my own thoughts on to them.

But what that admission did do was to remind me that I don’t need to make all A’s and stress myself into a stroke or a heart attack. I have to maintain a 3.2 average to stay in the program, but that means I can earn B’s and still graduate. Nobody will ever ask for my transcripts, and I really need to let go of the perfectionism that causes me so much needless physical and emotional pain. So, I took the big step (it wasn’t easy to convince myself to be nice to myself) of dropping the third class, and now I am taking Introduction to Buddhism and Buddhism and Healing, two subjects of which I know absolutely nothing, which is the reason for going back to college.

This week, my husband told me that having three classes last semestr meant that I didn’t have time for anything else. I think he meant that I didn’t have time for him, and he was right. When I become laser-focused on making A’s, everything and everyone around me suffers including my health and well-being. I gained weight because I’d just grab whatever I could to eat that didn’t mean that I had to spend a lot of time away from the books.

So now, I am going to see how I do with two classes, and, if necessary, I will make more changes. I am trying to have life balance and not perfectionism, but the habits of a lifetime that have been used to earn the approval of others are hard to break. But, I have to try, for Douglas’ sake and mine.

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