I look at my Google calendar, then my to do list. I mentally review all of my responsibilities and current commitments. I think about all the new relationships I'm building and remember that I was supposed to reach out to Marylast week to schedule a lunch date and forgot. I'm overdue for a phone call with my grandmother and it's probably time to schedule coffee dates with Joe, Jane, and Susie again. I get overwhelmed and head to take my 3rd shit and it's not even 10am yet. I see my non-existent waist in the mirror and feel even worse because I can't find the time to properly nourish myself these days. I'm back down to my high school weight. I wash my hands while looking in the mirror at my dark circles and dry hair and somehow convince myself to keep going. And then I head to my closet office with no windows that I can't bear to sit in another day.
I sit there and silently resent whoever turned balance into a trending topic, because I'm convinced it doesn't actually exist. It feels like this perfect and unachievable thing we all cling to but will never reach. Although I feel like it can never be obtained, it doesn't stop me from wanting it, craving it, as I attempt to not drown in this unbelievably challenging and overwhelming season of my life.
I want you to take a moment to think about a time you felt you were living a balanced life. A time when you got 7-8 hours of sleep every night, exercised regularly, consistently ate a nutritious diet, kept in touch with all your close family and friends on a regular basis, stayed on top of everything at work, had all your finances in order, gave your best to your spouse or partner, didn't have to turn your child away because you were too busy, kept up with the news, your spiritual practices, and self-care activities, and felt emotionally and mentally stable.
Please share with me that moment in time when all of this was true for you, all at the same time, for an extended period of time.
*moment of silence*
If you're a real human being, that was probably a struggle for you. But maybe I'm just being an ass and making assumptions. So I guess I'll just speak for myself.
At no point has my life ever felt balanced. If I was eating well and getting enough sleep, I probably struggled to incorporate regular exercise. If I was buried in the books studying, I probably wasn't sleeping or socializing. If I was focused on my relationship, I was most likely neglecting my friendships.
And for some reason we have been convinced that this is wrong. We're made to feel guilty when we start a new job or bring a child into the world, and exercise, sleep, and keeping in touch with friends falls off. We're told we're not doing something right when we accept that promotion and work into the evening or on weekends and miss out on time with our spouse or kids. We're shamed for eating pb&j or ramen as an adult, when we're just trying to save money and get out of fucking debt.
A cloud of guilt sweeps over me whenever my husband lies in bed next to me at 8:30pm and I'm still on my laptop working. I think about how friends have called me the outsider when I "disappear" and wonder if they think that right now because I haven't been chatting much. I beat myself up as I seriously wonder if I've talked to my grandmother on the phone since seeing her in May. I hope that my 2 dogs will soon be blessed with a new fur momma because they're lucky to get a walk once a week.
And again, I curse at the person, the people that sear into our brains these perfect, unrealistic, and unachievable ideals. These people that have us playing this never-ending game of trying to stand straight up on a tightrope for hours on end. This game of equally distributing care, time, and attention to each area of our lives. This game where the rules say that we must take action – do more, do less, meditate, take a yoga class, go for a walk, sit on the couch with a glass of wine, take a bubble bath, unplug, go on vacation, treat yourself, don't answer that email – out of fear that if we lean too heavily to one side we might fall off the tightrope and die.
I quit this game. I quit at trying to live this perfectly balanced life. In fact, I'm throwing "balance" in the trash with a lit match.
Every stage of life is a season, a temporary state of being. Just when we're getting adjusted, there will be a death in the family, a promotion, a relocation to a new city, a baby, a marriage, a breakup, a financial emergency, a health issue, a marathon, book launch, job loss, you name it, that will throw your life out of wack.
There will be sleepless nights, bad diets, even worse hair days, angry outbursts, full days spent on the couch, long days getting shit done, unanswered texts, heartache, financial abundance, bank account on E, bliss, joy, sorrow, stagnation, and growth.
And you know what?! IT'S OKAY! TELL YOURSELF, IT'S OKAY! It's okay to ebb and flow between easy seasons and hard seasons. Accept it. Bask in it. Embrace it. Don't force yourself to meditate for 10 minutes every day because someone said it's one of 6 steps to find balance in your life.
Balance does not exist in the hard moments. It does not exist during busy seasons. Free yourself from the daunting task of keeping everything at a happy medium, at average, at just good all of the time.
Life right now is uncomfortable, sometimes painful. But so was life before Columbus, just in different ways. I look back at my previous life; I shudder and wish to never go back. Although I can't yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, I know it's there.
So I refuse to delicately stand on this tightrope, looking down at my impending death, trying not to move an inch. We get nothing done in this state. We cannot master a skill or trade. We cannot do great things living like this. We cannot make an impact.
I want to make an impact. Do you?
If so, jump off the tightrope with me. I guarantee you, an early death is not awaiting you at the bottom.
Friends – are you also sick of this balance bull shit too? Leave me a comment! Let me know your thoughts.... and don't forget to hit subscribe.
Until next time,