Since graduating high school over a year ago, I still seem to get asked the same question over and over again… “How did you do it all?” If you knew me in high school you know that I was the “aspiring triple-threat actress” who somehow balanced high school theater, dance lessons, voice lessons, and TWO choir classes. Not only was I running from rehearsal to rehearsal… to rehearsal, but I also managed to volunteer my time in extracurricular activities such as Girl Scouts, Youth in Philanthropy, bible studies, volunteer work, and National Honor Society. Oh, and did I mention I also kept all A’s? Yes, I was a High School Over- Achiever. And yes, I made it out alive (and you can too)!
After a year of being out of high school, I have been able to pinpoint things that I had done (or wish I had done) to get through everything. So, here are some tips, tricks and other things to keep in mind that may help you balance your busy schedules. (Oh, and don’t worry friends, family, fans who may not be in high school… this stuff can help with your busy lives too!)
This is probably the most important thing when it comes to a busy lifestyle. In high school, I balanced about 6 different schedules; My school schedule, my dance schedule, my play schedule, my sleep schedule (HA), my work schedule, and my voice lesson schedule. (I know it sounds crazy.) BUT there is absolutely NO WAY I could have balanced all these things without a planner of some sort. Now when it comes to getting a planner, get what is best for you. If it helps you to have a weekly journal planner, get it. If you’re more of a digital person, use your phone/laptop. But you must have something. You’re lying to yourself if you think you can remember everything! There is no way you can remember which rehearsal you have to be and at what time when you’re talking about 3 different rehearsal schedules. Because I was balancing so many different schedules, it helped me to color coat each one (dance was pink, theater was green, voice was blue… and so on) Doing this helped me know where I had to be and when. Scheduling will do wonders for you, so please take advantage of it.
This one can be a little trickier. With high school, comes the workload. It is your job to prioritize the work, so you can get the most important things done and out of the way. My favorite way of tackling this is by making a list of things that need to be done in order of importance. Let’s say I had an English paper due on Tuesday, a Chemistry test on Friday, daily math homework, and I had to have all my lines memorized for the play by Friday. Looking at all of this I would ask myself “which on will I struggle with the most?” and in this case it would be the Chemistry test (science is NOT my subject) I would then ask, “Which one is worth the most?” what’s the point of wasting my energy doing math homework that’s only worth two points when I need to write a 100-point paper? Yes, math homework is important, but prioritizing your energy to the things that matter most is a better strategy of being productive. I personally pick up on math quickly and it’s something that comes naturally to me, so I often did my math homework in study hall, lunch, in-between classes, etc. I recommend spending every extra second you have being productive (turn off that phone, don’t goof off, and use that time wisely!)
GET OFF THAT PHONE
This is one that I still struggle with. Nothing holds me back more than my phone and getting sucked into the never-ending vortex of procrastination (aka social media) it’s like an endless cycle, first, you go on Twitter, then Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, then back to Twitter. You spend so much time constantly refreshing until you realize an hour or two has flown by in what feels like a couple of minutes. Your phone can become your biggest obstacle when it comes to being productive. I know it’s hard, but when you need to study it’s best to unplug completely. Turn off your phone and do all your homework THEN you can reward yourself with taking a break on Twitter.
KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY
If you’re a performer, this is a given. But you need to keep yourself healthy to make sure you can tackle everything life throws at you. I remember I would drink a diet coke for breakfast and think that could get me through the day and then by the time I got home from school, rehearsal, and then dance feel completely exhausted. If I had taken better care of myself, I probably could have been a more successful (and happier) person. Make sure you are sleeping, make sure you are eating breakfast, and make sure you are staying hydrated.
NO MATTER HOW BUSY YOU ARE, HAVE FUN.
A busy lifestyle is stressful beyond compare but please make the most out of it. This is your life and you want to remember the fun you had in high school. Look for the fun in everything you do. Enjoy each moment of talking to your friends at lunch, going to prom, supporting your school’s sports teams, sharing the stage with your best friends. No matter how busy you are, you should always make time for fun because high school will fly by and you’d wish you had more of these moments.
Honesty is so important. Be honest with your instructors. Tell them when you are confused about something, they won’t know until you tell them. When you have so much to do, you don’t have time to get stuck on stuff you can’t do. If you don’t understand Spanish, be honest with your teacher and say, “I don’t understand this.” Be honest with your directors. Let them know ahead of time when you won’t be in rehearsals. They deserve to know, and it is your responsibility to let them know (because it’s hard to rehearse a scene/song/dance without everyone there!) There were many times I wasn’t honest in high school, and those were the times I struggled the most. Not being honest caused me to fail almost every Spanish test because I was too nervous to ask questions. Not being honest caused my directors to be upset with me for showing up late or not showing up at all when they needed me most. Honesty truly is the best policy. But please, remember to be honest with yourself to ensure your health in these busy times.
YOU MAY NOT MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY (AND THAT’S OK!)
I tend to be someone who hates saying no. I’m a people pleaser and I want everyone to like me. One of the things I struggled with in high school was trying to please EVERYONE. Whether it was my teachers, directors, friends, peers, or even my parents, I strived to show everyone how dedicated and hard-working I was. If someone asked for my help, I would try my best to help them at that moment. If someone asked me to be somewhere, I would try my best to work around my already busy schedule. Unfortunately, this got to a point where I became unable to say the word “no” out of fear that I would disappoint someone. I noticed this a lot with balancing my extracurriculars. All my hobbies expected so much out of me that I could not stand the guilt I would have when I couldn’t be two places at once, or when I wasn’t able to finish my work, or not practice as much as I should have for choir/theater. At this point in my life, nothing was worse than the shameful look of disappointment an instructor would give when I failed to reach their expectations. Sadly, this happens a lot to people with busy schedules. I wish throughout high school someone would have told me that its OK to not please everyone. It’s ok to fall behind sometimes, it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to say no, and it’s ok to fail. There were those times I went to dance class and didn’t know a single step because I had missed classes. Instead of telling myself “don’t worry, you’ll get it” I would stand there telling myself how much of a disappointment I was to everyone in my dance class. The same thing happened with choir. There were days when I just had no time to practice. I would show up and disappoint my section, my instructor, and the whole choir. The guilt would eat me alive and I just wish in those moments I knew that everything would end up alright. I wish I knew that my choir would get the highest ratings, I wish I knew that I would do well in my dance recitals, and I wish I knew that I would do the right rhythm for my solo in “Into the Woods”. Falling behind doesn’t mean you give up, it means you just need a little more time than others (and that’s ok). Yes, it sucks when your director is screaming your name and calling you out in the middle of a rehearsal when you’re clueless (trust me it’s happened to everyone) but don’t let that discourage you. Just keep moving forward and do your very best and everything will end up the way it should.
I hope that this little list of things will help you in your high school experience, or with your everyday life. If you are a theater/dancer/singer kid, I wish you the best of luck in your high school career. There will be days where you just want to pull your hair out and quit everything but remember that you are doing all of this because you love it! Cherish each moment you spend with your high school friends; each time you walk into the auditorium and each time you dance in that studio. There are days I miss it so much and I wouldn’t trade the memories I made for anything in the world.