Do Life Better
In this new series, we ask faculty from various disciplines for expert tips on how to manage everyday challenges. Dr. Reuben May, a sociology professor by day and a rapper by night, answers our first question: “How to Balance Life and Work.”
by Dunae Crenwelge ’15
According to a 2014 study published by the American Sociological Review, 70 percent of Americans struggle to find a work-life system that works for them. Others, like Dr. Reuben May, a Texas A&M University sociology professor who doubles as rapper Reginald S. Stuckey, delight in creating meaningful and satisfying lives outside of work.
May holds the Melbern G. Glasscock ’59 University Professorship for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence and was presented a Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching by The Association of Former Students in 2013. A Chicago native, he’s authored three books on the sociology of sport, the sociology of the everyday and urban ethnography.
Based upon his observations of how people manage everyday situations, here are a few tips for successfully balancing professional pursuits with personal sanity.
Ask for help. People who achieve good balance have a strong support network they can depend on to help them get through difficult times. “Asking for help is a sign of strength,” said May.
Find an ear. “Not necessarily a sympathetic ear, but someone who will listen,” he said. Those who achieve work-life balance talk to someone important in their lives, decide how they want to spend their time and commit to following a path.
Find your passion. May’s personal passions are playing basketball and rapping. “A passion is important for preserving yourself and some sanity and joy in your life,” he said. “When people see me enjoying what I do, they get joy out of it and become inspired by the confidence I have to do what I love.” May started rapping publicly in 2011 after a student encouraged him; he’s now written approximately 400 songs and raps weekly on campus and around Bryan-College Station. He’s even performed on Northgate. “It’s OK to have a duality,” he said. “Rapping is like runner’s euphoria for me. I tell people it’s my cigarette break. Everyone needs that.”
Make time for your passion. May sets aside an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on his songs and music videos. “A feeling of control is key in managing work-life balance,” he said. “It brings certainty to the world and gives you something to look forward to.”