Is it just me or is balance one of the most evasive and difficult things to have, find, and establish in life?
I’ll be the first one to admit that I approach life super intensely and intentionally. I give whatever I’m doing 150%. I think about everything all the time. I overthink and over-process conversations I’ve had, things I’ve done, and decisions I’ve made.
Because of these tendencies, I consistently find myself re-evaluating and re-establishing things in my life to have balance. Balance for me will not look the same for anyone else, and that’s why it seems so difficult to have and maintain. It evolves and changes depending on the day, week, month, season of life.
Here are a few areas that keep surfacing in conversations and life lately.
Time spent playing with kids vs. time doing housework/making food. It seems the pendulum has swung in popular discourse towards the side of spend time with them while they’re little. Which is so true and important. However, keeping the house somewhat clean and organized helps my own sanity and general state of happiness while playing. Balance.
Organizing kids’ play vs. giving them independent time and space to be bored. I’ve been reading so much about the importance and value of letting kids, even from a very young age, have time to get bored so they create and imagine on their own. When it takes 5, 10, even 15 minutes of whining and complaining for them to get to that point, my nerves and ears are shot. Balance, once again.
Time and energy spent on social media. This one is so personal. This past month I’ve had numerous conversations about the value, pitfalls, and necessity of social media. Certain people seem to eschew and despise things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. for philosophical reasons (it’s not personal enough – if people really care it should be expressed more individually, it’s too publicly personal – privacy is impossible, it’s a waste of time, it causes offenses, fights, and unhealthy comparison). I could keep going. Needless to say, balance is tough. I personally find social media very useful. I try to limit time spent on it to specific times during the day and throw my phone on airplane mode at the same time every night to shut it all off for a good chunk of time. For me, social media has become an essential part of contemporary society and lack of participation seems to marginalize people from friends, family, community, and even job opportunities.
Spending time with family and friends vs. time on one’s own. This one is huge. Introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between has their own beliefs and boundaries. Here’s one thing (or two) I’ve learned: it’s essential to be around people, people who love and support you as well as people who are different and challenge your opinions. I’ve also found it’s 100% necessary to spend time alone doing things that nourish one’s own body, soul, and spirit. Either way – balance in this area is probably the most difficult for me.
Health and food. January seems to be the month of resolutions and attempts to be healthy. A couple weeks ago, I dove back into two of my favorite books: French Women Don’t Get Fat and French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano. The one thing I appreciate about these books is Guiliano’s push for équilibre or balance in food and exercise. She brings up équilibre in a 100 different ways. Basically, eat a wide and diverse variety of fresh food, indulge in moderation, and move frequently and intentionally. Everything about this approach to food and exercise is countercultural in the US which makes doing it super difficult. Once again, balance, even in embracing and taking on things I really believe in.
I could keep going, but I’ll stop. Balance, right? It seems so easy to do pendulum swings in life. Maybe it’s a natural tendency to make radical and short term changes rather than find equilibrium and establish long term and lasting balance. Either way, I find myself challenged in this and I think that’s ok for now. I’m sure I’ll never have it all figured out, which is probably how it should be. Here’s to spending a life learning and changing in each season.
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. – Proverbs 11:1