A Balancing Act: Juggling Work and School in Early Recovery


A Balancing Act: Juggling Work and School in Early Recovery

“I didn’t get sober just so I could be this busy!” A near daily refrain as I left my job heading to an early afternoon class. I was already dreading the meeting I had promised my sponsor I would meet him at after class gets out too.

It felt like overnight my life went from hanging out with my recovery buddies and going to after-meeting dinners to non-stop responsibility. Everything that I had once dreamed of was coming true and it was amazing – but it didn’t always feel so amazing. In reaching out to my network of supporters I received some helpful insight: emerging adulthood isn’t just a major transition for recovering addicts and alcoholics, it’s a major transition for everyone!

However, a dramatically powerful internal shift was taking place. For my entire life, I sought happiness one fix, moment, or accomplishment at a time. My newfound responsibility was building a foundation of self-esteem and healthy self-confidence that would serve me forever more. By methodically and consistently showing up for life I was beginning to see myself as a responsible and capable adult. Furthermore, I was beginning to find peace rather than seeking happiness in little bursts. Looking back, this change has been extremely important for my commitment to long-term sobriety.

On those challenging days, the fellowship of the Collegiate Recovery Community was priceless. There was an unspoken understanding shared between us as non-traditional students who juggled our recoveries with school and work. We could identify with one another in ways that other students simply wouldn’t understand. We supported each other by studying together, attending meetings, and having fun away from all our responsibilities too.

For so long I beat myself up because I knew what I was supposed to be doing, but never did it. It didn’t feel good when I looked back at years of unfinished work and unfulfilled promises to myself. In recovery, I get to choose. When I make a decision to do something I have the tools necessary to make it happen. By learning to balance work, school, and my recovery I got in touch with the person I want to be. I wasn’t so busy because someone made me. I was busy because I chose to be and freedom of choice is a gift of my recovery. Like they say in the rooms, “It isn’t easy, but it is SO worth it.”

Nico Doorn M.Ed., LCDCi
Director of Recovery Services


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