“It’s a myth. Balance is a myth.” - my bestie, mother of a 2-year old and creator of a beautifully curated online and pop-up vintage store called Folk & Cup.
People live their lives striving for balance, following balance around, always reaching for and maybe sometimes, although I’d say rarely, obtaining it. It’s something that seems to sit just out of reach and I’m not sure that it’s at the fault of anyone else, but rather that balance isn’t something that’s sitting there waiting for you to begin with. My bestie is an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife, a best friend and has many other labels and roles to play in her life. On a daily basis she can be pulled in many different directions, stepping into entrepreneur role while her toddler naps, keeping the young-one entertained as he explores and learns the world around him during the day, and preparing dinner for her family at night so she can have an hour or two of quality time with her hubby when he gets home. All the while sneaking time in between everything else to keep an active social media presence for her brand, bringing in new opportunities to bring her pieces to the best shops in her town, and creating a beautiful set-up when she pop-ups at flea markets. Just calling attention to the many things that require her attention makes me feel a little unbalanced and as a result feel like maybe she has a point, maybe balance really is a myth?
Last week I saw Arianna Huffington speak at a conference about “Thriving in this Digital World”. Already a big fan and follower of Ms. Huffington, I was diligently taking notes throughout her speech feeling all around great about how I’m currently choosing to live life and what I’m doing for myself to ensure I’m THRIVING. When commenting on “work-life balance” and what that means to her she said, “It’s not about working longer or working harder. It’s about working smarter…” She went on to say that it’s not about finding work-life balance, it’s about creating the life you want to live for yourself. My bestie’s belief on balance started feeling more real.
After spending more than a decade in corporate America myself, there’s a lot of talk around the subject of work-life balance, and yet seemingly significantly less action. When it comes down to it, the company needs you to do what they need you to do. As middle to upper management, never quite the big dog on campus myself, our roles and responsibilities never changed no matter what was in front of us. The number of mental breakdowns some of my team members had around me feeling overwhelmed by their work-load, yet never wanting to vocalize where they were coming from for fear that there was someone right behind them in the cue ready to step-in and give their everything to the position, broke my heart. You shouldn’t give your everything to your company. You should work smart, be clear, give your heart, but keep your soul for yourself. Keep your soul for your family, for your loved ones and for the life that is waiting to be lived around you outside of your office doors.
Arianna speaks a lot about balance in the workplace, and creating a shift from within the company culture as that’s the only way companies will create true impactful change. But as individuals, what can we do to ensure that balance doesn’t slip between our fingers? How can we take control of balance in our own life?
I believe it begins by feeling into what balance means to you across the board in your life. Do you feel balanced in your healthy lifestyle, do you feel balanced with your time and how you spend it, do you feel balanced with your friends, social life, family, spirituality. There are so many ways for balance to bleed into your life, and just as many ways for balance to feel like a lie. No option is wrong, I think it’s about choosing what balance means to you.
For me balance in healthy living, healthy eating, exercise, has always been a struggle for me. Having participated in weight watchers on and off since I was 16, always feeling like I was overweight and struggling with self-control, somewhere along the line I began telling myself this story that balance with food for me would always be a struggle. After 15+ years of telling myself that story, not so weird that it became the truest form in which I lived by with food. I would fall off the wagon and get back on more times than I could count - (a story every food battler knows well). When I started working with a nutritionist now 6 months ago, I thought - THIS IS IT. This is the big change I’m not just looking to make, but I’m CHOOSING to make in my life. AND, this isn’t just a change momentarily, this is a lifestyle change. And change it certainly did. I spent the last 6 months hyper aware of what I was eating, finally drinking enough water, eating enough vegetables and generally working out as I should be. I lost 15 pounds, exactly what I was hoping for, and felt like myself again, confident and comfortable in my own skin, and although the voice saying “you shouldn’t eat that, you should eat this” was still going on, she became much smaller. I was talking to myself like I loved myself again.
The funny thing about this massive change though is that it’s not one and done. (I know, of course right? Silly of me to think otherwise) I guess I had hoped that because I had made such huge strides forward, had done such deep work on myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually and all in connection with my relationship to food, I thought I would heal my mind and maybe that little voice would get so small that one day she wouldn’t be there. Then one night, I had a few too many drinks, ate things that don’t feel good to my body and Monday morning I’m back at it, feeling frustrated with myself, and little voice has gotten louder again. The shift I’m choosing to make today that’s different from before is I’m choosing not to berate myself. I’m choosing to accept the choices I made, I enjoyed myself nonetheless snf I do tend to have an overindulgence side to me. I’m comfortable with that, at least for now. But today, I choose balance again. I haven’t lost balance, she’s not something to reach for and pretend that she’s attainable in tangible form. But today I choose balance within my body and for my body, balance with what I’m eating, with what feels good and I’m choosing to act on what feels good.
Maybe it’s not that balance is a myth as much as it is a state of mind as opposed to something to be striving for. Balance today feels like a feeling, a core desired feeling because when I feel balanced, I feel unstoppable, authentic, and in flow. Maybe finding balance or connecting with balance is about implanting, choosing the lifestyle that comes with whatever the word itself means to you, in your life and for the betterment of your life.