Sleep, academics, social life: choose two. This is the first adage I heard before arriving at Yale. That’s stupid, I thought. I should be able to balance it all at some point. I just need a solid routine.

At 7 a.m., a Marimba alarm blared. I fell out of my bed and tried to read whatever reading I needed to do for a class. I leaned closer, my chin resting on my desk, as I squinted at the 10-point, Times New Roman letters. I understand that I’m reading English — that’s a great sign that I’m awake and that I can still read.

I waited for September, October, November, December to see if my routine would change and if there would be a time when I could jump up, pump my fists, and shout, “Put me on a balance beam right now because I’ve found the balance.”

It’s a new semester now and I still haven’t found it. And I’m starting to wonder if I ever will. 

I’ve asked others about achieving it, but most of my friends and classmates seem just as confused as I am. They pepper “should” or “could” into their rants about managing their college life. They could be putting more effort and time into all that they’re doing. They should be more responsible with their classes and extracurriculars. Why can’t we juggle everything like we did last year? Why is everything suddenly so overwhelming and uncertain? What happened?

Our conversations almost always end with a shrug: neither of us knows. 

Balance is not just a goal at Yale; it is the expectation, anchored by the spirit of “and.” On the first page of Yale’s admissions brochure, they claim that “Yale is best defined” by it. Students can do math and english and history and global affairs and ethics, politics and economics. We take our classes and we do extracurriculars and we talk with others in dining halls and in our suites about topics ranging from Toads to classic literature and — if we have an hour or two — we sleep.

It was easier to overload when the mode of transportation was the click of a button. But I’ve found that in the transition to in-person education, achieving balance is physically impossible. Needs take time: we sleep for eight hours (on an ideal campus), wake up, get dressed, eat, walk, talk, eat, walk, wonder, eat, rant, get ready for bed. The spaces where one can cram in work or social events are limited. 

And we only have so much energy that we can expend. Life happens: an injury, a difficult conversation, a sudden death can immediately shift anyone’s mood or focus, affecting how the day, week or month goes. 

We circle back to the original issue: how do we achieve balance?

ISA DOMINGUEZ is a Sophomore in Timothy Dwight College. Her Column, “Isaential Readings,” runs every other Monday. Contact her at

Isa Dominguez is a current co-editor for the Opinion desk and a staff columnist for the News. Originally from Doral, Florida, she is a senior in Timothy Dwight College majoring in English.