According to the Business Insider, being a reader has its advantages: better attention span, better ability to empathize with others, less stress and reduced risk of mental disease.
So, congratulations. By reading The Collegian every week, you are decreasing stress and increasing some mental capabilities.
However, taken too far, reading can also hurt you; too much strain can affect your eyesight, like Clym Yeobright in The Return of the Native.
Reading to escape reality can also end poorly if taken too far.
Most things in life, like reading, require balance.
Take coffee as an example. According to the Harvard Medical School, coffee can help protect against Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.
But coffee can also exacerbate ulcers and interfere with sleep,
according to livestrong.com.
And Brown University says it can raise blood pressure and cholesterol.
I’m not trying to argue that you should cut back on coffee—or even that you should drink more.
Instead, I want to show how the principle of balance is necessary in our lives.
We need a balanced diet to keep us healthy and a balanced social life to keep from spending too much time either studying or relaxing.
As Euripides said, “The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life.”
A more modern rendition says, “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.”
Most of life isn’t as easy to balance as our diet though. Juggling spiritual, social and academic priorities makes college difficult.
I’ve found that I can focus so much on an upcoming test that I’ll completely neglect everything else in my life.
But there have also been weeks when I’ve had so much fun with friends that I’ve neglected to study for classes.
Not to mention the habit most college students form of relegating devotions and prayer to whatever time happens to be left at the end of the day.
However, balance applies to all types of situations, not just college life.
In Media and Society, a class I am taking this semester, we watched a TED talk about the danger of a single story.
A single story is essentially an unbalanced view of a person, place or thing.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the speaker, tells of how she had been told many times that a boy she knew came from a very poor family.
Because she had only been told this one fact about the boy’s family, Chimamanda didn’t imagine his family as anything but poor.
With this unbalanced view, she couldn’t picture that the boy’s family was also hard-working and very creative as the case happened to be.
The more I examine my life, the more I think balance is a missing part.
Whether in how I manage my time or how I view the world around me, I seem to constantly be off-balance.
Even our culture keeps us off balance. Companies try to keep our attention as long as possible, our eyes glued to screens for an unhealthy amount of time.
Or we are constantly presented with a one-sided look at an issue.
After all, how many news headlines were there that promoted a balanced viewpoint on any political issue in the last month?
Or what about a political ad that showed what both parties thought about the candidate?
It’s important for us to stay balanced not only in the different areas of our lives—academic, social, spiritual, career— but also in how we view the world.
We need to view people not as just poor or just rich and not from a single perspective.
When we take time to balance our viewpoints and our lives, we can see life a little more clearly and in perspective.