In a meeting at work someone wondered aloud whether life-work balance was even a thing anymore since the recession. I was happy that three people answered simultaneously; yes, I think so and definitely, but it made me feel a little anxious to even hear someone suggest that balance may no longer be important. Balance is something that I think everyone talks about and in theory wants to have, but lately it feels about as easy to find as a unicorn. It would not bode well for me if society as a whole was starting to regard balance as something unnecessary in this day and age.
Not only do I need a work-life balance, I also need a life-life balance. A mommy life–me life balance. I feel like I am a tight rope walker; striking the balance between the two sides of myself which are both imperative to keep me moving forward toward my destination and knowing that leaning too far to either side will have me plummeting to my soul’s death.
That might sound extreme, but I’ve been known to go to extremes. I mean, I’m no Lindsay Lohan or anything but I’m also no stranger to excess. I have thrown myself into things so whole-heartedly or having a singular-focus that it could be construed as unhealthy.
This is part of my dilemma.
We learn from very early on that if you have a dream and a passion that you should pursue it at all costs and never give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Persistence and drive and ambition and hard work and you can be or do anything. I teach this to my own kids. But there is a flip side of that coin. Becoming so focused on a goal that you neglect the other parts of your life is not only unhealthy, but has the potential to rob one of the essential happiness of simply living. There are a myriad of stories, true and fictional, about people throwing themselves so much into their work that they lose their family or friends or minds or all of the above. So, how does one remain focused and persistent and move confidently in the direction of their dreams without giving up the other stuff?
I just find that sometimes it is hard to know when I am leaning too far to one side. In all parts of my life actually. Whether at work or chasing down dreams, with friends, as a parent, with family or with lovers, I’ve found that there are so many opposing life truths and the key seems to be knowing how to strike a balance between the two. This can be rather tricky and has had me wobbling to and fro on that tight rope more than once.
How do you know when to push harder and when to back off? As a mother, I want to inspire my kids to do their very best. If I think they can do better, I tell them so. But at what point does my “pushing” become “nagging” and instead being “inspirational”, I am just “critical”.
Or how to figure out when to go after something or let it come to you. Learning when to hold on and when to let go. When to speak your mind or hold your tongue. I feel like part of the tight rope walk is between all of these oppositional forces. Parenthood is certainly full of them and there is plenty of judgement no matter which side you come down on.
But I think life is too messy and complex to sustain absolutes. They just don’t work. I want to learn to live happily in the middle. To strike a balance between the two extremes. In the gray. On the tight rope. With the unicorns.