What’s The Worry About “Balance”?

Three weeks ago, I started a new job. Three weeks ago, I started grad school. Three weeks ago, I stopped sleeping. (Not really, but I certainly don’t get the same amount as I used to). While adjusting to all these new changes, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which I am supposed to “balance” my life between my commitments, family time, chores, and self-care (aka, relaxation). I moved from 0 to 60 when I started these new things because I moved from being home all of the time, to never being home. The question now is, how can I simply squeeze everything in?

There have been many discussions in the last month on trying to take on a reasonable workload in order to keep the integrity of my work in tact. This has been between me and old supervisors, new supervisors, my husband, and myself. It’s amazing how much you feel you can add on to your plate when you care about the work, and yet at some point, the fine line between managing to get everything done vs. doing everything beautifully and with grace comes to smack you in the face. Luckily, I haven’t had any falls (yet) but I’ve come pretty close.

This makes me wonder why everyone worries about having a “balance” in life. What in the world does that realistically mean? I certainly don’t feel balanced between work, school, chores, and time doing things I really want to do. In fact, if you can imagine a set of balance scales, I would be the weight hopping back and forth between each side, continuously moving, in order to reduce the chances of one side hitting the ground (aka, crashing and burning). I am never the scale itself that is balanced, I am always the weight constantly in motion. Why should I worry about my scale being stable when my focus should be on how well something is being done in my life? Quality over symmetry.

With that being said, it’s not like I’ve really reached that mindset. Intellectually, I realize that this is what I should be striving for (in my opinion) but my emotional and physical sides have yet to catch up. I’m tired. I get cranky to those I love. I cope with stress through a teary release of emotion. All the while, my brain is telling me I’m being illogical regarding this so-called “balance”. How do you change your mindset so that you can slow down in order to relish the speed at which you are moving?

I find these questions to be important because without consideration, I’m not really practicing self-care. I’m not taking care of myself in order to take care of others, and that’s the field I’m in. I’ve discovered that the current population I work with is one that I have a harder time “leaving at work” and that it’s harder to get a break from all of the preoccupation in order to focus on other life aspects. This may be in part due to my schoolwork, which focuses on asking ourselves how what we’re learning can be applied to our clinical practice with our patient population. I like having to question myself and my practices on the day-to-day basis and to include my learning immediately, but it certainly makes it harder to leave “Susie, John, and Joe” at work and to not worry about their needs and care.

How does this contribute to our desire for “balance”? It makes me want to draw clean, divided lines between everything and say, “you belong here, you belong there” etc.; but that’s not life. There will always be overlap. How do we instead move towards accepting that balance is a myth if our work is formed in a foundation of care?

Why then, do we even worry about balance? If you have the answers, let me know.

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