A Senior’s Secrets to Finding Balance at Harvard

Harvard is incredibly fast paced and competitive, and as students frequently articulate, it is all too easy to lose perspective on the world beyond the gates. Even more poignantly, it is possible for students’ sense of self to become convoluted in the chaos. The following eight things helped me prevent Harvard from co-opting my relationship with myself and maintain balance. They’re not particular to Harvard, but work nicely here, and can possibly offer a framework for thinking about the next stage in life as well.

  1. Embracing spontaneous, out-of-the-plan excursions (no matter how small they might seem) helps keep overbearing regimens from setting in. Embrace the unexpected and knock some things off of the senior bucket list a little bit each year.
  2. Welcome the eccentricities of the “weird” people you meet. Understanding what motivates their differences will increase your ability to dialogue with others and with your own emotions.
  3. Pursue one or two athletically oriented goals. People talk about running the Boston Marathon, but this is necessarily not the only thing that can have tangible value. Learning a new sport or training for IM crew can further your understanding of your physical being.
  4. Practice allowing yourself to do things. Rather than a constant mental soundtrack of “I should,” listen to your body and your desires. Learn to trust your body’s commitment to homeostasis.
  5. Take thirty seconds and really pay attention to one thing you do every day. Feel the way your toes move in your shoes as you walk. Try and describe a smell with colors. Eat a single bite of a food very slowly and let the taste grow in your mouth. These kids of things ground you in a moment and act as a brain-reset.
  6. Avoid complaining, but try not to dismiss those who do outright. Understand that complaining plays an important role for many people in their effort to relate to the world and to each other. Infuse conversations with some positive sentiment even if you’re feeling down. Still, be honest and do not avoid feelings that are seated in your mind.
  7. Meet the people who run the House (or wherever you’re living). Taking a bit of time to say hello to security guards, administrators and the like not only gives them a boost, but also helps you feel more invested and integrated with your living environment.
  8. Do not condemn balance as being an excuse for not doing more. Making choices in the pursuit of balance is always a valid pursuit. It proves to be exponentially more rewarding in the long run. Find your zone and let balance flow through work, love, and play.

Arthur Bartolozzi ’12 (bartolozzi@post.harvard.edu) is balanced.