I started off this post with the title "How To // Achieve Balance" because that seems like an article that everyone would want. Balance. Having all things be equal. Having all things good. Having "it all."
Women seem to be especially driven by this elusive quest for balance. Being the greatest mother, the hot wife, the perfect business woman, the yogi & a gourmet chef all seem to be requirements these days. Everyone has an opinion about "having it all."
But I have to wonder, is this journey for balance really bringing value to our lives? Or is life more full when we throw ourselves into something so violently that the rest of the world stops? So we can completely become entrenched & immersed by just one thing at a time?
The reason I say this stems from one of my biggest pet peeves: When bloggers "apologize" for taking a break from blogging. I see it all the time.
"OMG readers! I'm SO sorry I haven't been posting as much! I've just been sooo busy & my new found passion for needlepoint has been taking up ALL my time! I've missed my 48 thousand followers, you're all so important to me! I promise I'll be better about posting pictures of my cat doing yoga more regularly!"
Here's why statements like this are a problem:
#1: A sentence like that reeks of self-importance, which makes me feel ill.
#2: I can smell the guilt this person feels for not doing what is expected of them through the computer.
#3: I begin using scent-related analogies, which are not chic.
I've been working like a mad-woman for the past four weeks. In my industry, the culmination of my work for the entire year falls into one day in August. Executing this one day in August requires countless hours of preparation, technical & emotional support for my team, 24/7 availability, an unlimited supply of caffeine & the patience of a saint. To say I've thrown myself into this project is an understatement. Every year I learn to give more of myself & deliver an even better result than the year prior. And now, I've become a big fish in my very small pond. As a young woman in an industry ruled by people older, wiser & more wealthy than myself, achieving notoriety & respect from them has been a huge triumph. The reason I have stood out has been because of my hard work. The intense focus & ability to produce amazing results comes from working smart, dedicating myself & working HARD. So yes, for the last month, I have fallen off the map- less time for friends, for partying, for swimming in the ocean, for Real Housewives, for writing. But with this lack of "balance," I have been able to focus my efforts intensely on my one project & deliver a result that was as close to perfection as I could possibly imagine.
And I haven't written anything in 23 days. And I forgive myself for it.
People will make time to do what is important to them. It's okay if doing whatever you've been doing (like needlepoint or watching Real Housewives) is more important to you right now than writing or posting or blogging. Which is another reason why "not having time to work out" kills me- you make time for what is important to YOU.
If I were stressed out about being "balanced," eating perfectly, hitting my macros, writing quality blog posts, being social & being the rockstar at work that I want to be- I would be burnt out, delivering subpar products & putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Instead, I allow myself a bit of freedom during the time I know I'll be busy with work. I know my meals will be sporadic & not always within my normal diet plan, so I don't miss a workout. I communicate with my friends, family, roommates: "I will be busy, I am not neglecting you, but will be unavailable." I allow myself sleep when I can, wear flats more than I wear heels & stock my desk with Advil.
I know what you're going to say. "My job requires that much work ALL the time." "I have more responsibility than you!" "I CAN'T be unavailable for my family, they need me."
We all play victim and forget that the choices we made months & years & lifetimes ago have led us to where we stand today. The partner you choose, the decision to have children, the car loan you can't really afford or the donut you know you shouldn't have had... these are the circumstances we create for ourselves. Take ownership.
I love what SJP said on seeking balance: "The question is not only how you do it, but why? If you don’t have to juggle career, children, and husband for financial reasons, why choose to? The beauty of the times we live in is that we do have choices."
My thesis is this: if we were always focused on seeking balance, we would miss out on some really great moments of triumph. We would miss out on some opportunities to struggle, to sacrifice & see what we are really made of. We would miss out on mini-milestones that we could celebrate. To me, it's the difference between laser-like focus & the plague that is multi-tasking.
Maintaining homeostasis for yourself or for others is dangerous- I feel like it's such a safe way to live. Never wanting to rock the boat, 'balancers' care more about maintaining the status quo than they do about pushing themselves. Balancers are scared about potentially upsetting people who might not have their passions or pursuits aligned with their own. And if balance really was the goal you were going after, what you would have at the end of it all is a pretty mediocre collection of things you can do/manage/maintain fairly well, but not any one thing that you've done really fucking excellently.
As a result of this last month, I've come out of this experience exhausted, energized, a little bit broken, proud, humbled. I've missed out on a few parties & a few opportunities to sleep in. And I wouldn't have it any other way. So fuck balance. I want crazy fall-head-over-heels-in-love experiences in every aspect of my life. And you know that when you find that kind of love, sometimes you stay in bed for a few days & send all other calls to voicemail.
So get out there, do something really great & give it your all. I'll understand when you don't return my text.