Living Unbalanced

We are back!

You may or may not have noticed that there has been some radio silence from our end. Apologies, if you did. It was by no means intentional. It just sort of happened. And then kept happening.

And because I’m a person who reflects, I’m going to try and reflect on what happened.

In a nutshell, things got out of whack.

When it comes to life, I enjoy things being ordered. And routine. And compartmentalised into boxes. I wash my sheets on Saturday. Weekends are for friends. Weekdays are for family. And work happens in between. I’m not alone  in this enjoyment. Many of us create order and routine because it creates safety. We often think it will help us to create certainty in an uncertain world.

I also liked sticking to a routine, because I thought it might provide me with balance.

Balance. I think this is a bit of a dirty word. We can be driven by our desire to attain it. We might believe that when our time is divided equally between ‘work’ and ‘life’, balance will magically occur. And then when this expectation isn’t met with joy and happiness and success, we’re bound to be disappointed.

And conversely we add additional pressures to ourselves. When we all strive for balance, we’re continually judging our progress on this. If it doesn’t feel good then I must be getting it wrong. And if I’m doing something wrong, I’m not alright.

And it’s not a correct algorithm to have work-life balance. The two things aren’t comparable. Yes, working full-time takes up a lot of hours in my week, but that life thing is maybe even huger. Because ‘life’ has all these different categories: family, partner, friends, friends’ children, community, exercise, nutrition, cross-stitch, side-project small-business, personal development, travel, binge watch high school dramas on Netflix etc. Even if work and life were balanced, would it be fair? Not when we consider all the important things that make up ‘life’.

The myth of having balance in life also makes everything seem it is of importance.This is another lie. Everything is not important. In fact, most of the time, we spend the majority of our time focusing on one thing. Everything else gets less attention. As a general principle: no entity can be optimally efficient at more than one thing. A robot that has to both climb stairs and make pancakes will be far less efficient than two distinct machines each of which can focus exclusively on one task. The more limited the goals, the higher one’s chance of efficiency. A multipurpose machine – human or corporate – is always going to be less efficient than one which is dedicated to a single purpose.

And our priorities and purposes are continually changing. My priorities – because of the very uncertainty of life – changed big time over the past few months. And as a result my routine and my strive for the idealised ‘balanced’ life came to a halt. But in reality, most of our lives are usually ‘unbalanced’ in some way. We will continually feel that we ‘should’ spend more time on family/friends/cross-stitch.

And I’m okay now with living an ‘unbalanced’ life. Because I reckon some of the best and worst and most important parts of my life are going to be when I feel like I’m out of balance. Think about it – could we really move homes or take on a challenging new role at work or develop a new relationship or address a mental health issue or have children - living a ‘balanced’ life? It actually wouldn’t be worthwhile or efficient or much fun at all.

I’m starting to come to terms with the idea that ‘balance’ is a myth. I don’t have to feel compelled to do everything. And I don’t have to feel guilty about all the things I’m not doing. I can give up on the ideal of balance, because it’s impossible to achieve and sustain.

Instead, I can commit to what I’m doing at the time. I can commit to life, in all its unbalanced glory.

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