Juggling School, Extracurriculars, and Life

November 21, 2021
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Debate, school, other extracurriculars, house chores, socializing, and other responsibilities are ones that many students juggle on a daily basis. Wondering how to manage it all? The hard truth is that it’s not easy. I am writing about this topic not because it is something I believe I have perfected, but it is something that I struggle with and want to share my experiences on how I manage it. It takes planning, persistence, and a whole lot of sacrifice to accomplish the balance. At some point you realize that no one has really perfected a balance between these different aspects of everyday life, but you eventually learn to prioritize what is most imminent and important to you and go from there.

Being a junior in high school, participating in various extracurriculars, enduring school days lasting till 5:30, and trying to launch a company through all of it, I am still trying to figure out how to juggle these responsibilities. I haven’t by any means been the best at managing everything but I hope my experiences can help you. The first week of school after covid hit me like a train: I didn’t realize how tiring it was to sit through almost 9.5 hours of instructions, finish my homework once back from school, take care of other extracurricular commitments, and find time for relaxation. As the weeks progressed, the best thing I accomplished was getting into a groove. I started to compartmentalize everything I had to complete on a weekly basis. Over the summer I tried to employ strategies wherein I would plan out my schedule on a daily basis, but I found that I was spending 30 minutes on developing a schedule itself, and consistently falling short of the ambitious goals I had for the day. Weekly goals allowed me to ground my thoughts and set out tough but realistic goals to aim for. I also employed several planning tools from the influence of good friends (props to them) such as google sheets and notion to mark off tasks and have a tangible reference for my progress throughout the week. Even if you lose some time in the short run, trust me, it will save you more time and sanity in the long run. I’ll leave this portion purposely vague because finding a groove isn’t something you attain from adopting someone else’s strategy, it’s something you derive from trying and testing different methods to see what works specifically for you.

One other experience I can share is that finding a passion helped me balance these priorities. I am not here to tell you what passions you should pursue, but I can shed some light on what helped me find mine: debate and coding!

Debate is an activity that truly has impacted so much of my life. Socially, educationally, and mentally, debate has been enriching in many aspects of my journey. To those who don’t formally compete in debate, it may seem like an activity where you are just arguing about random topics, but it is much more than that. Through debate, we are educated about topics that we may otherwise never be exposed to, an integral component of my love for debate. Learning about hardships that individuals in other countries are exposed to encourages me to be more grateful about the simple things I often take for granted in my own life. Additionally, it sparks thought about what initiatives I can take on to do something about these issues. Debate is not just about who can speak the fastest in a round and convince a judge that their side should win, it’s about being cognizant and motivated to do something to alleviate these issues, an aspect that is often overlooked in debate. Launching Verba has helped me become more conscious of how important learning about public speaking can be to individuals around the world. I’ve seen numerous emails and reviews talking about how students coming from different backgrounds have found Verba to be a resource they use to learn more about debate and public speaking. Additionally, many of the analytics softwares incorporated into the Verba app and website reflect how the most common conversion pathway to individuals downloading the app tends to be when they search for “public speaking” or “debate” and find Verba. The first week was 10 people in the United States, and the next week was 50 users across 5 countries, a benchmark of reach that I was already amazed by. Fastforward to several months later and Verba now has 3,600+ users across 140+ countries, an accomplishment I am proud of and hope to continue growing. Although debate may not help shape everyone’s journey, these aren’t just numbers, they are a count of individuals from around the world collectively interacting on a platform that I am glad to have built and continue to iterate upon. Another one of my passions is what aided me in not only creating Verba, but also what made me come up with the idea: coding!

Coding didn’t come as a natural passion to me. My father would bug me in middle school each day to create a basic project in any one of a variety of languages. Whether it be scratch, python, or java, I probably dabbled in copy-pasting a program from stack overflow in the language. Upon inquiring me on what my any of the code meant, my dad, being a software engineer, pretty easily figured out I didn’t do any of these myself. I consistently lost motivation because it wasn’t something that interested me at the time. Towards the end of my 8th-grade year, a close friend of mine approached me with an app idea and asked me if I was interested in helping out with it. Having no ambitious plans set out prior, I went for it. Over the course of developing this project, I truly found a passion for coding. Seeing something tangible that I used in my everyday life felt to me as if I was in powerful shoes. When I started working on more apps, my love for the art continued to grow. Upwards of 10 apps later when I set out to create Verba, I was fueled only by a genuine interest in how I could create something to help others around the world. During the virtual school year, I would code during our 8 minute “passing periods”, all throughout the night, before school, and any other time I could get my hands on a laptop. Coding, or any other passion for that matter is not for everyone. Even I am still exploring different interests of mine, but what I can tell you is that when you find something you love, there are very few things that can prevent you from striving to pursue that passion.

Finding a passion and a groove can definitely help you with managing responsibilities and enjoyment. At the end of the day, keep yourself physically and mentally fit, and you can’t go wrong! Hope you enjoyed this first post, and if you would like to write one, please reach out to us at verbahq@gmail.com.