School. Work. Hobbies. Relationships. We’ve talked about all of these things in previous installments. I think it’s about time we put all of these things together.
Balance is the art of juggling all of these things without going insane. When I write these things down next to each other, it doesn’t seem so hard. Actually applying it to my life, however, is an entirely different story.
It seems like I can only have 3 of these things at once. If I choose, work, hobbies, and friends, my schoolwork suffers. If I choose School, work, and hobbies, my relationships suffer. If I choose school, work, and relationships, my mentality suffers. If I try to do everything at once, I quickly become overwhelmed. At around this time is when I have to take a step back and look at the whole picture.
Oftentimes, if I stop internalizing my stress on this topic, I can find the extra time to try balancing the Big 4s in my life. I find that, when I analyze the topic using logic over emotion, I begin to realize that I have more time than I think I do.
Let me explain.
Before I got a job, I spent literally ALL of my free-time creating things. I didn’t hang out with friends, I didn’t go to work, so what did I do? I wrote. I made art. I used whatever time I had left after school and before bed on my hobbies, because I thought it made me happy. In reality, though, I was using these things as an excuse to isolate myself.
When I got a job, the exact opposite thing happened: I spent whatever time I had after school worrying about work. Notice that I didn’t say at work. That’s right — I probably spent twice the time worrying about my job than I did at my actual job. In hindsight, it sounds stupid, but in the moment, it made sense. Why? Because I overthink things.
There’s a massive misconception that, in order to ‘succeed’ in life, you have to be good at everything. You have to have a career, a family, etc., and you have to be so good at those things that you also have time to yourself.
I think that’s complete crap.
If you find a job you love, it’s easy to bury yourself in it. If you find a hobby you love that simultaneously consumes you, you won’t be able to support your family. But you also won’t be able to support your family if you spend all of your time at home. Where am I going with this, you may ask?
Balance. Maybe it’s not the art of juggling everything in your life while keeping your sanity; maybe it’s about finding the right amount of time to spend on each individual thing.
This week we’re talking about balance and let me tell you, it’s a daily struggle. I myself am in this stage of life where I’m trying to figure out the perfect balance between each of the important things in my life. There are so many things vying for my attention, but if I divide my energy unequally, then I suffer.
Right now, I am having the internal struggle of finding balance between my relationships and everything else. Since I’ve been home-schooled for eight years, I’ve always had time for my family; I’m always around my family. Now that I’m in high school and I’m taking more difficult and time-consuming classes as well as getting busier with commitments and responsibilities, I’m finding it harder to find my balance. I’m spending less time with my family and more time figuring out my life. Yes, my family plays an important role in my life and I love them, but in two years, I’m not going to have them as I do now, so I’m beginning to figure out my own story. With that being said, how do we strike a balance?
First of all, what are the things in life that require balance? Relationships are crucial to our well being as humans and having relationships requires time. School takes up so much of our time but it’s an important part of our lives. Many students have jobs, which requires time and energy. Hobbies are important in finding parts of our identity at this age. Sleep is also an important component of our lives that requires time. As we grow older and discover what stress is, we need time for relaxation and self-care like watching a movie or taking a shower. If we spend too much time or energy on any of these wonderful and necessary things, it takes away from other things in our lives. It’s always a give and take in the search for balance.
I think finding a balance in life is all about your priorities. Obviously, if relationships are more important than a job, then you will spend more time with your friends and family than you would a job. If sleep is more important to you than school, then your school will suffer but you’ll be well rested. You can’t have it all, so in order to find the balance we all look for, we need to find our priorities. Make a list of the top five things in your life that you value most, even if they’re not one of the examples I gave. Boom, your priorities. For me, it would probably be religion, relationships, education, self-care--because I’m an introvert, and my job. I know my priorities, so I am able to allocate time to the things I value most, striking a balance between important elements in my life.
How might you decide how much time to give to each of your priorities? This is a personal question that only you can answer. You might try ranking your values, or you might want to give each equal time and energy. However you want to strike a balance for yourself is good, unless it really isn’t healthy for you. By unhealthy I mean that a priority steals from other aspects of your life and in return, you don’t live to the best of your ability. It’s okay to give certain things more time than others. For example, I spend way more time with school than I do self-care because self-care takes much less time, but both are extremely important.
I think the most important way to figure out balance is to constantly reevaluate. As seasons change, so do we, which means self-care might be more important than a job, other times, sleep is more important than hobbies. If we can’t figure out how to find balance in whatever season of life we’re in, then we feel like life is swallowing us whole. We feel like we’re waving above water for someone to help us and in the meantime, we are drowning. Especially in these teenage years when we first find out what balance truly means, it’s so important for us to find it, otherwise, we might drown. Find your priorities, constantly reevaluate, and don’t get irritated with yourself when your balance is occasionally rocky.
Kayelona’s explanation of prioritizing is everything I’m trying to say. It’s absolutely impossible to spend the same amount of time on every aspect in your life. Even at a young age, you can’t be outside playing for as long as you’re a classroom. If it’s not realistic then, how can it be realistic now, when you have twice as much to do in (what feels like) half the time?
Self-care is also SUPER important, as she pointed out, and it’s something I’ve struggled with greatly in the past. I’ve dismissed unhealthy behavior as self-care in the past (read: when I wrote so much I turned into a hermit), but I’ve also been through periods where I don’t care for myself enough. What was the solution? Balance, not an equal divide.
Thanks for reading! Until next time…
K + L
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