Wow. I may have just set a record for fitting the most parentheses in a post title. Success!
So, last week Kailey wrote a post on the concept of balance. In short, what I got from her post was that balance doesn’t truly exist—at least not in the sense that it should. Instead, she noted that it’s generally more effective to be flexible, to roll with the punches and see where life takes you. She mentions that, some days, it’s better to just give up the predetermined plan that you’ve set for yourself and go with the flow. This idea has stuck with me for the past week, and it got me thinking about where balance fits into my own life.
Life is pretty busy right now. I work full time, I go to graduate school part time, and I’m in a long-distance relationship. I’m also a daughter, a sister, and a friend, and I try to have some semblance of a social life. Every one of these commitments takes time, effort, and attention to maintain; often I notice how easy it is to get caught up in the craziness of everything and to forget to take time for myself every day.
I realized very quickly this year, as soon as I started my grad program, that if I was going to be successful at everything (or, at the very least, remain sane), I deserved the time and the things that would keep me feeling like myself. If I didn’t do that, I knew I would fall apart (and subsequently NOT succeed at all of the things I had going on in my life).
Admittedly, I thrive on structure and a schedule. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone, but it is definitely what works best for me. There are some non-negotiables in my daily life, including exercise and sleep. I know this makes me sound mildly crazy and seriously anal, but at least six days a week, I need to sweat and I need a LOT of sleep. I don’t need these things for arbitrary reasons, or even for vanity purposes; in order to feel my best (and by my best, I mean my happiest, healthiest, strongest, most awake and energized self), I know I need those two things.
I sleep significantly better on days that I workout, and I need a freakish amount of sleep to feel rested (most people need eight hours; I feel fully rested after about nine and a half. I know, I’m like a toddler. Forgive me). Most days, finding time for exercise and the amount of sleep I need means giving up other things, but most of them are trivial (I mean, really, do I need to watch another re-run of The Hills?) I know that, in the long run, giving myself what my body craves will have a positive impact in the long and short run.
Now, this is not to say that I’m not a fan of spontaneity and flexibility, or fun for that matter! I absolutely see the importance in being flexible and, more importantly, in being open-minded and willing to try new things even if they aren’t part of my plan that particular day. Meeting friends for drinks at the end of a long day can be just as (if not far more) relaxing than going for my scheduled run, and I’m happy to do it! Staying up late talking with Nick or (party-animal alert!) finishing a great book can easily take precedence over my normally early bedtime. Bottom line is, I think part of being “balanced” is knowing what’s best for you on any given day and on treating yourself to what you really, truly want. So…
What works best for you? Balance? Flexibility? Or something entirely different?