The “B” word: balance. Can we really HAVE IT ALL and balance everything?!
It seems like this topic has come up a lot during casual conversations with my girlfriends recently (because so many of us are feeling the same way), so I figured that it deserves a blog post of its own!
As women, professionals, moms, we hear so much about how to “balance” our lives so that we can juggle everything that’s on our plates and still stay sane. Careers, children, marriages, health and fitness, household chores, friendships…the list goes on. But is it even possible to do it all?!
In my opinion, the answer is a big fat NO – and we shouldn’t be trying to do it all! We do a disservice to women when we suggest that it is possible to get everything checked off of our dream-world To-Do List while still getting adequate rest and avoiding a nervous breakdown.
I will preface all of this by saying that I am only sharing my own personal opinion – I am not an expert, and I only have my own experience and observations to draw from. If you disagree, that’s cool too!
I believe that at any given time in our life, we can only juggle so much. Think of it as picking 3 or 4 priorities. These priorities might change by the week, month, or year, but it’s just not possible to “have it all”…all at once.
For instance, if your kids, your job, and your physical health are your top priorities at the moment, then you will likely have to scale back your friendships, your dreams of a spotless and organized home, or your perfectly meal-planned made-from-scratch clean eating dinners every night. Either that, or walk around like a cranky zombie because you haven’t slept more than a few hours in years…
You get the idea? Something’s GOT TO GIVE. If the focus right now needs to be on your children, caring for an elderly parent, and taking care of your own physical health, then maybe it’s time to take a step back from your career.
The choices, the juggling, the priorities…they will look different for all of us, because we all have different circumstances to consider. But the point is, it’s not realistic to assume that we can sustain a long-term pursuit of EVERYTHING. Instead, we must give ourselves permission to just let go of some of the expectations that we put on ourselves and that society puts on women in general.
I have an undergraduate degree from Princeton, as well as a law degree. I was raised to believe that I could do anything that I put my mind to. There were no limits for me as a girl, so I spent the vast majority of my life playing competitive soccer, training for competitions, and working hard to educate myself and develop my career. But you know what? I reached a point when I wanted to have a family. After years of trying to get it all done (and believe me…I tried), I finally had to take a step back and make some tough decisions about my life RIGHT NOW. Not my life 5 years ago or my life 10 years in the future…but right now. At this moment in time, I just can’t fathom climbing the corporate ladder or grinding out 14-hour days in a private law practice. My health, my relationships, and my happiness would suffer.
Instead, I have chosen to step away from the career that I worked so hard to create for myself. But more importantly, I’ve had to redefine my OWN expectations about what it means to be successful. At this point in my life, I am fulfilled by raising my children, maintaining my happy marriage, nurturing my friendships, and trying to keep myself as healthy as possible.
The fact is, just because we live in a generation where we are (typically) empowered to “do it all,” that doesn’t mean that we HAVE to do it all…all at the same time.
I am far from perfect. My boys love a good McDonald’s Happy Meal when I just don’t have the energy for anything else, I stay up late watching garbage television because I just can’t tear myself away from The Bachelor or The Voice, and with 3 young boys, my house is full of dirt, dust bunnies, and plastic toys. But I’m doing the best that I can, I’m proud of who I am, and I can honestly say that I’m perfectly happy NOT BALANCING IT ALL.
I hope that you can give yourself permission to let something (or many things) go, too. Maybe you can’t afford to walk away from your job at the moment – or maybe you don’t want to (and that’s great too!), but I bet you can look at your mile-long mental To-Do List and tell yourself it’s okay.
Go to bed without crossing a few items off of your list. You’ll still be a good person/wife/friend/mom in the morning…even if they’re not done. Determine your BIG priorities for right now, focus on those, and let the rest go. Be confident in your choices, and understand that you don’t have to do everything at this time in your life. You’re still doing a good job!
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