Work-Life Balance


Hong Kong University – An urban forest

Week three. It’s real. I’m in my third week of my masters program at Hong Kong University (HKU). Never have I thought would it be possible to be working full-time while going to school part-time, and neither have I predicted would I be going to do my masters in Hong Kong. Yet the opportunity came to my doorstep, and here I am: Accepting the challenge.

I have a lot of mixed feelings, emotions that I’m not sure how to put into words. I love being a student again – going on campus among other free spirited individuals – so young, so innocent, so many intelligent minds. I’m not too old myself but I definitely feel the difference going to school this time around. Time flew by and I return to school with a different pair of eyes – a new perspective on life. I envy those who have 15 hours of classes a week, while I have close to 40 hours a week of work, plus 3 hours lectures 3 nights a week, and spending my two days off locked up doing everything life throws at me plus readings and homework. It’s been a crazy few weeks that I’m trying to balance.

I’m trying to convince myself of a crazy philosophy and to live by this standard: “Work hard, play harder.” I deserve it after all. I’m lucky to have a rather, unusual work schedule that has been working to my favour. I work from Tuesday to Saturday, and during these days, it will include 2 nights of classes until 8:30pm, otherwise work until 7pm, and to have a life afterwards, meaning dinner / catchup with friends. Maybe even having some time to myself for some peace and reflection. Some nights this week was spent overlooking Hong Kong on a patio, and other nights on campus, chatting away with my classmates who have became my new friends. Then Sunday would be now titled ‘Study Sundays’ where it’s a day of focus locked up away in my room and my apartment, where I will finish all the homework for the week. It also coincided a horrible habit I have developed these last two weeks – McDonalds delivery, the convenience of not having to leave my house and yet food is delivered straight to my door. Then Monday has become the ‘HKU Mondays.’ I usually do all my life admin on this day, while everyone is at work, then go to the campus for the rest of the day where there are usually workshops followed by a night class at 6pm. I seem to have life under control, and scheduled. Everything seems to be quite organized, or so I thought.

The truth is though, I’m burning out. I’m a hardworking individual and I like learning. I don’t mind trading money and time for my personal development because I know it’s invaluable in the long run. That’s something you can’t and don’t measure. However, what I’m scared of is burn out. I’m scared that I can’t handle it and that I can’t physically and emotionally take this pressure. It’s a masters and this is no joke. I’m doing something really great, something much bigger than myself, and I’m paying a lot for it. Not just monetarily but my physical being with my time and effort.

I’ve been sleeping at 1-2am everyday and functioning like a mummy/ vampire each day. My body is catching up to me and sending me signals. It’s telling me that I’m killing it slowly but surely. It’s only been three weeks and I feel like I’m already drowning. It’s a two years part-time masters so it’s going to be a very deep learning curve. I need to learn how to take control of my life again. I need to learn how to adjust. I need to learn how to balance my life better. What does life-work balance mean anyways? Does it really mean stretching yourself until you no longer can stretch anymore? Does it mean burning yourself out until you get ill? I don’t think it does but this is something I have yet to learn and to discover.

It’s not going to be an easy journey, but I am not willing to give up. This will be my newest challenge – learning how to balance life with work, school, and play. I know I can do it.

I’m ready to conquer.

Everyone has a story. This is mine.