I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. I’ve always been the type of person who’s very conscious of how far the pendulum swings across the areas of her life. But now I’m realizing I don’t give a fuck about balance; I’m loving the beautiful, so-called “mess” I am.
Since I was in my mid-twenties, I’ve been struggling to find balance. When I was in love for the first time at 23 years old, everything became about “us, us, US!” and even “him, him, HIM!” and never “me, me, ME!” Needless to say, I tipped the scale WAY over, and, after our breakup, I vowed to never do the same again. True to my word, I ended up tipping the scale in the opposite direction and overcompensated for the time not spent on my personal goals. For years, everything was about “me, me, ME!” and my professional goals; love and men were an after thought. Then, I started to become worried because I never wanted to be the person who is married to her career because then I won’t be married to a human, right? RIGHT?! I want to experience both of best worlds, but how?
Balance, I thought. It comes to down to balancing everything. “I’ll work until 5:00, go to Pilates at 6:00, have a drink with friends at 7:30,” is what I thought was the key to having the best of both worlds. You work hard, and then you play hard. Easy, right? Yeah, not quite.
It turned out that seeking balance was screwing everything up for me. If I was feeling in the groove about writing and working way past my so-called “designated” playtime, I felt bad. If I was out with friends and having fun on a “school night,” I felt guilty.
“I have to find my balance,” A good of friend of mine said to me the other week. She didn’t sound the least bit thrilled about finding it at all, and I didn’t blame her. It was becoming clear that balance was becoming a chore, and it sucked hard. But, if I don’t have balance, I thought, then what?
Luckily, the gift of synchronicity led me to a blog post from author Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat Pray Love” fame.
In the post, Gilbert recalls someone asking her how she balances it all, to which she responds that it’s time for us “to reconsider the aspiration of balance in our lives.” Gilbert says she feels the word ‘balance’ “has accidentally become yet another weapon in the arsenal that we use against ourselves — yet another piece of evidence that WE ARE NOT DOING IT RIGHT.”
YES! When I read her response, I thought that finally someone hit the nail on the head about balance. Tons of magazines and blogs (mostly directed towards women, I should add) tell us that we’re supposed to have it all – money, career, love, babies, health – and BE it all – peaceful, capable, confident – but don’t they all just make us feel like big failures because we don’t? And just who exactly are these people with the perfectly balanced lives? Do they even exist? Honestly, I don’t think they do. I think that “perfectly balanced” people are like unicorns: beautiful to imagine, but, ultimately, bullshit.
Sometimes, we feel like we have it together, and sometimes we really do. There was a moment in the summer when I was healthy and happy and in a relationship and content with my career… only for life to completely reverse on me within a matter of weeks. As Gilbert says in her post, “We are all moving objects, you guys, in a constantly changing landscape. There is no shame in being mostly out of balance. That’s kind of what it is to be alive.”
So now I’m saying ‘no’ to balance. If I want to work on the weekends, I work. If I want to cut loose and have fun when the mood strikes, I go with it. When I’m having a shitty day, I forgive myself, knowing that another good day is around the corner. And when I fall on my ass, I pick myself up again because at least I tried; at least, I lived.