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Why I’m Letting Balance Take a Back Seat

I’m starting to really dislike the word balance. Anytime I log onto social media or turn on the TV, I’m slammed with this message of maintaining steadiness within my life in all areas.

Whether it’s work/life, work/family, or just an overall sense of balance, I feel like we are being inundated with the urge to find and sustain equilibrium in order to achieve stability and happiness in our lives. And it’s starting to place a typically positive idea in the shadow of a concept we are told to avoid: perfection.

I’m not saying they are synonymous, but this strive for balance I see so frequently is beginning to remind me of the painful strive for perfection that robs so many people of the joy and contentment they are working so hard to attain.

What happens when we aim for perfection and fall short? Many people crumble under the idea that they are failing, or push themselves harder at greater personal cost to try and avoid said failure.

So what happens, then, when we also aim for balance? Better question — what happens when we aim for balance, maybe not 100%, but close, and then spend our days battling to hit this goal? Do we feel better? Like we are settling for a more realistic version of perfection? Or are we just placing more stress on ourselves when that balance is thrown off? I know that when any one area in my life loses balance, it’s like a domino effect: the rest goes catawampus with it. And then chaos ensues…

The only saving grace is that balance for me looks different than balance does for you, or Jim, Jon, or Sally, but if we are trying to get to a comfortable sense of the word, we surely aren’t half-assing it, right? We are still working toward a goal and we know what the outcome needs to look like in order to feel accomplished.

I know that if I want balance, there is a mile-long list of tasks I need to complete each and every day and things that need to be a certain way (aka, my way). But as a natural perfectionist who doubles equally as a hardcore procrastinator, I can get pretty wound up when I have a lot to do and can’t get it all done. I’ve learned to show myself compassion and to be proud of what I can get done while saving the rest for the next day if need be, but I still aim high. And that can make balance just as nerve-racking for me as aiming for perfection would be.

Granted, balance does mean acknowledging the ebbs and flows and understanding that when one side of the scale lists, it’s possible to work back to a more even level. I just don’t like feeling like I have to keep up balance for appearance’s sake.

My life is a shit-show right now and I will admit that openly. Perhaps that’s why I’m a bit cynical about such an innocent word that is supposed to have a positive connotation. Do I want balance back? Of course. But I also know why I don’t have it and that it will take a long time to get there again given my current circumstances. The real “balance” for me right now is understanding that the scale will even out eventually, even if it’s dragging its ass on the ground presently.

I guess the moral of my rant here is to remind anyone who is struggling to meet some personal or force-fed standard that it’s okay to stumble — to have an off day, week, or entire season of life — but don’t for a second buy into some limiting idea that constant balance is what is going to give you a great life or that you’re failing if you don’t have balance in your life at all times, or even most of the time.

If you’re unhappy with how things are going or with what you are doing, change it. You have that power. But don’t give an outside source, whether it’s another person or society in general, the power to tell you how to do things. Don’t let them tell you that if you don’t have balance that you’re doing something wrong. We don’t have to be perfect or balanced to be living well or achieving great things.

Besides, what’s life without a little whimsy, eh? 😉

What do you think? Is “balance” starting to feel like the new “perfect?” Or is it just me…? Leave a comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts.

8 thoughts on “Why I’m Letting Balance Take a Back Seat”

  1. In society’s point of view right now balance has become a synonym for perfect. I struggle with trying to have balance, or be perfect, while dealing with all the day to day tasks that I must do. While that is on me, and how I view things “should” be, society doesn’t help. Be a Pinterest mom while trying to be an instagram model and also posting the perfect thing your child did today on Facebook, those are the things social media and society have put on the typical everyday person. We have gone from what magazines and celebrities have shown to be the “perfect life” and how to “have it all” to what social media says those things should be and look like. Do we as people have control over what we do, believe, and make of our lives ? Absolutely! However, when we have been fed the stigma of perfection and balance for so long that’s what we are programmed to try and be, and do. I think for me in order to not feel the weight of society and social media I need to remember why I do everything that I do. I go to school to better myself and continue to learn about my profession. I work so I can have life’s necessities and take care of my son. I bust my ass every day, for a poverty wage, so I can teach children that they can be the person they want to be when they grow up. I let my son stay up last bedtime so he can have “just 1 more minute” with me playing or cuddling so that he will have those memories when I am gone. I am trying to forget about perfection and balance otherwise I won’t have time in my life for the things I am already pretty good at. I’ll take “pretty good” over “balance” if it means I’m not beating myself up for not being “perfect”.

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    1. You are so amazing, Ginny! I see every day just how hard you work and often wonder how you do it all to keep that “balance.” I even get stuck in the thought pattern of, “How can I do that, too?” I think we all could benefit from removing the filter of social media — that illusion that is created through what we see vs what we don’t — so that we can better understand that it’s not all rainbows and glitter and that that balance we think we are seeing is just a person like us, busting their ass to provide and create a life to be proud of while maintaining some semblance of sanity. Keep doing what you’re doing, girl. You are a phenomenal example of what hard work and grace looks like. ❤

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  2. Great post, this has been on my mind a lot recently too. I think balance is like wisdom, we only achieve it through many, many years of practice. So while it’s a good goal, I agree it shouldn’t make us feel stressed out if we don’t hit that goal. Instead, my goal these days is stress reduction which means my perfectionist idea of balance had to get left behind as well. Really we have to all find what works for us to be happy and shed any illusion of perfection, balance, or society’s opinions of either. I hope life gets easier for you soon.

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  3. You briefly touch on the most important point. Balance is personal. We all set our own levels and our balance is not going to look like someone else’s balance.

    The biggest issue with balance in our society is that there is no clear definition but it’s something we all want (or think we want from societal pressure). When we’re not clear what we’re aiming for, and when we always hear that this or that does not allow for balance, we get let down. We also compare ourselves to others to try to reach that universal balance utopia that doesn’t really exist.

    It’s important to understand what balance should look like for you based on your definition. Then, adjust your life to fit that definition or adjust your definition to fit your life. We also need to understand that balance does not always have to mean the same thing every day or every week – it’s about the big picture.

    I actually just wrote a post on work-life balance. My motivation steamed from a lot of the same feelings that you have about balance. Check it out if you’re interested: http://jamievc.com/work-life-balance-do-you-have-it/

    Liked by 1 person

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