My life is not balanced. I am a single mom with two busy teenagers. Right now I have a stack of dirty dishes in my sink, laundry on the couch, piles of paperwork to catch up, calls to return, friends to connect with, a million errands to run, blah blah blah…the list is endless and I’m sure yours is too.
Some days I really kick ass. Other days, I barely move at all. Not because of lupus, but because I just want to chill. I joke often that I don’t know moderation, because my life feels so intense in many areas. I’ve spent a great deal of my life craving balance and chastising myself for not accomplishing that moderation.
Here’s what. I think chasing perfect balance is an exhausting waste of time. I think we are conceptualizing it all wrong.
Balance does not mean everything is equal. I mean, if you look in the dictionary it might mean that…but hang with me a sec.
We have had to look at how life twists and turns and take all of the moving pieces into account. If you are trying to give everything equal attention, all of the time, there will be a complete lack of that perfect balance you seek.
To me, balance is now about recognizing that at times there will be areas of your life that require more attention than others. That focus may be a short period of time, or it may seem to last forever.
For example, over my last break from school, my life was not “balanced” in the way we normally conceptualize things. I was sick for a good portion of the time and had to stay in. I took the time sequestered at home to really do some soul work, catch up on house projects, and write. I also spent hours dealing with the disability office, going to doctor appointments, making & freezing meals, and trying to get healthy by any means possible. I did not do nearly as many office tasks as I had hoped. My work piled up and I could feel a little creeping in. I had to really step back and sit with that feeling.
But feeling that anxiety is ok. In fact, it was really great. Through recognizing that feeling and really getting to the root of it, I am learning to see the patterns of my own productivity and not beat myself up for what I “should be” doing. I reflect and try to realign my priorities and schedule so that I can have a day off and not feel one ounce of guilt.
I understand this is a place of privilege. I understand that I am fortunate to have a break from work where I get to have this restoration. However, I also don’t think we always take true ownership over how we self-sabotage. I know I don’t. I get frantic, burned out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I look for balance and get angry I don’t have more time to do all of the things that are on my plate every day. So, I’m actively taking stock of the little things I can do to make each day more peaceful.
For me, that involves the true recognition that my days are not balanced. I do have to stop and remind myself of this! There isn’t a way to fit in everything in equal amounts. Some days, self-care or housework or whatever it isn’t present at all. I still haven’t figured out how to really fit friends into the equation in this season of my life. Life isn’t balanced in that area and may not be for some time.
Luckily, I can see my friends at our kids’ activities and other events. I can reach out to them and let them know I am thinking of them even when I can’t spend time with them. I can absolve myself of the guilt I feel because I am being open with them about where I stand. Because above all, I’m continually redefining and communicating what my needs are for this balance. My kids know the cycle and can ebb and flow with where we are…they know that there are times in the semester that my students will take up more of my mental focus and attention. They are not bitter and angry but are continually growing in their own empathy for others. We talk about how I hope they have a college professor who can be there for them if they need that at some point.
All of this has to do with how I talk about things to myself and to others. Communication is still at the heart of my focus. I want to keep having the conversations that propel us forward.
So, instead of trying to balance everything equally, give yourself some grace. Recognize that today may be a day where one thing gets to be a priority while another has to slide. The scales tip for a reason. They aren’t meant to be fixed.
Find YOUR balance and manage it in a way that is best for your life.