This week, we have a guest post from one of this year’s IEDPers, Suhina! Ever wondered what it must be like to start gradschool when you have a family who’s moving with you to a new city? What is IEDP experience like for a wife/husband/father/mother? Does it ever get overwhelming? How do you manage that? In this post, Suhina shares her own experience of balancing school and life outside of school as a Masters student who is also a wife and a beloved friend. 

As the semester winds to an end, stress levels start climbing. Post thanksgiving food coma and the deadlines for presentations and papers loom scarily overhead. This is the second time in the semester that I’ve felt this. Like a pressure cooker on a stove that’s started hissing slightly, almost ready to let the steam out in one piercing whistle. And just like last time, I thank all the forces in the world for my support system — without them I would be a tightly wound, poorly organized mess.

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Suhina with her husband, Arjun

I could talk about the support from my peers (all of whom are shouldering a similar, if not heavier, workload), or my family scattered all over the world, but that post will get very long. This one is about my family in Philadelphia, my everyday, present in this moment. My husband, and my best friend Teena. I’ve at times been bitter about having a husband who isn’t in school, and actually gets weekends. Also about having a best friend who has work hours and free time that don’t always coincide with yours. Yet today — while I’m juggling two presentations, one assignment, and two papers all due in the same week — it’s that same husband I can count on to listen and bounce ideas off of while he makes dinner. It’s that best friend who reminds me not to take myself too seriously, and step out for a yoga class.

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With her best friend Teena!

It’s not always easy, striking a balance between school and home. Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled in two different directions. Sometimes I’m grumpy about it. But in my times of need, I’m reminded that the love I feel for both of my worlds, the desire to be present in both of them, to allow them to collide, is what makes me good at finding balance.

I’ve learnt that there isn’t a hard and fast rule to “manage work-life effectively”. Here are my disjointed thoughts on what I feel about it. This balance game takes a little bit of time, a fair bit of patience, and an ability to let go of expectations you may have of yourself and of your surroundings. Focus on the bits that make you happy, focus on learning something from every experience. Allow space for yourself and your family to feel and exist in the moment. Everyone’s path is a little bit different, appreciate those differences.

My family helps me find happiness in my university world, and helps me find my joy outside of it. It keeps me grounded. And that is crucial for me.

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All the great people, all together 🙂