Pursuit of balance in life is a perpetual struggle

Ameya Bellamkonda finds new truth in the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it”


Ameya Bellamkonda, Contributing Columnist

What is the perfect balance of meat to lettuce to beans to shell in a Pit taco? Do any of us really know? How do we find out? Are we all just eating bad tacos until we hear a choir start singing because we’ve found the perfect mix of all those ingredients?

In my first-year seminar, we’re learning about theoretical perspectives that we see in the psychology of ex-offenders in our prison system. One of them, the “Rational Choice Theory”, essentially states that ex-offenders have freedom of choice. Some are able to transform their lives by clearly and logically seeing the road ahead and making practical choices that lead to a better outcome.

An ex-offender who succeeds during re-entry into society decides that a life of crime is not for them. They consciously decide to desist from committing crimes to avoid peers who are likely to get them into trouble and make choices that will bring them closer to their positive goals.

But how will someone who’s had everything decided for them for most of their life adjust to freedom of choice? How will they find the motivation to wake up every morning and decide to make practical choices no matter how much they may want to make a different one?

Recently, I’ve found myself in a similar situation. I’ve never truly been free to do whatever I want whenever I want — although I am now pretty close to complete freedom.

I should explain: I’m a first-generation Indian-American. Don’t get me wrong, my parents aren’t super strict — they’re pretty cool, actually  — but I have found myself living on my own for the longest period of my life. I have a basic foundation of a schedule based on my four classes, but that leaves me with an abundance of free time. What do I do with it? Do I nap? Do I eat? Do I go to the gym? Homework isn’t turned in daily anymore.

Given my crippling fears of letting my parents down and failure to consistently do my homework, I sometimes get so stressed that I get ahead on a couple of assignments. But, what’s stopping me from burning out or letting just a little too loose? Nothing.

What’s my balance? How do I find it? Do I just flail around trying to find my balance as life passes me by? As assignments continue to pile up? As darties and frat basements occupy my weekends? As my alarm that wakes me up for my 8 a.m. religion class every Tuesday and Thursday continues to make me want to throw my phone off of my fourth-floor suite balcony?

I’m not sure, and I don’t think anyone really is. That’s because all of our balances are different. 

When I was applying to colleges, my brother (a Duke graduate now) told me to “fake it ‘till I make it.” At the time, it didn’t make much sense. But, now, as I start to actually experience new things and face the reality that I’ll have a 401K in four years,  I have begun to see the truth in his advice.

No one knows what they’re doing. No one truly knows their balance because life is always changing. No matter the size of the change. Whether you’re from going to college, having kids, ending a long-term relationship, losing a loved one, life is always changing.

So, if anyone finds the perfect balance of a Pit taco, please let me know so I can see if that’s my balance, too. But, until then, I’ll keep trying to find my balance and I hope you find yours, soon, too (if you haven’t already).

If you have — appreciate it. You’re one of the lucky few who isn’t faking it — you’ve made it… at least until life throws something new at you.