“I admire your accomplishments and how you are able to juggle everything, that is great. How do you always manage to keep it all balanced?”
The response came in reply to one of my Instagram stories that I created on a day when I was off from work and was totally indulging myself – massage, yoga, checking in with my coach, working out – and also totally feeling guilty about every second of it. This woman who made the comment is a friend and she was paying me a compliment, but I actually laughed out loud at the question about balance at the end. She asked it genuinely, and she was being sincere.
I mean, huh? What? Seriously? In what manner do I ever give the impression that I “manage to keep it all balanced”? Especially in the past year or so? Was she blind, or deaf, or clinically delusional?
But here’s the thing: All she really “knows” of me these days comes from my posts on Instagram, or on my blog, which is probably about 1/10,000,000th of my actual life and the things that occur, both in my world and in my head, every single day.
I stepped back for a moment, and looked at the totality of all of my posts, and I thought about what impression someone might form of me based solely on that information. Then I thought about how I view all of the other health and fitness/wellness bloggers on social media, and how I can’t help but make assumptions about their lives, and compare myself to them. Like, not only are they out there killing it professionally, but they’re also always gorgeous and tanned and manicured and their homes are perfect … oh and also they always make time to get dressed up for date night and they treat themselves to burgers and donuts because life’s all about balance, ya’ll!
They make it look so easy. As though it is possible to balance it all – see? she’s doing it! – and therefore I must be failing because I haven’t figured out the secret of keeping it all in balance yet.
One of the things I dislike the most about social media is that it seems to be built in the precise format that makes it SO FUCKING EASY to get into the toxic game of scrolling, clicking, and then comparing ourselves to everyone else we see – it’s as though the platform was built specifically to trigger that self-destructive part of our brains.
Or maybe it’s just me, you guys, and maybe I’m projecting. But I don’t think I’m alone in this.
So here’s what I wanted to say:
I don’t want to play any part in that unhealthy comparison thing. I don’t ever want anyone to think that I’m somehow managing all of my stuff perfectly or that I’ve figured out how to fire on all cylinders all of the time and keep my life in balance. I needed that to be completely, totally, crystal clear. That illusion of balance is a lie.
I am not keeping it all balanced. I am not in balance right now, and I have not been balanced for the past few months, and I will likely to continue feeling unbalanced for a few months more, at least.
I am not balanced. Nothing about the way I’m spending my time or energy is balanced right now. You know that duck analogy … the one where the duck is gliding along so gracefully on the surface of the water, but underneath, his little legs are kicking like crazy to keep him afloat and moving along?
My legs are kicking LIKE CRAZY.
Here’s what my unbalanced looks like:
- My sleep schedule is horrendously messed up. Melatonin is my best friend.
- My own level of fitness is not where I’d like it to be, and I’m in a period of seriously lagging energy and motivation in terms of my own training.
- I haven’t spent any actual, undisturbed quality time with my wife in … a month? Two? I stay up much later than she does every night, and she is gone for the day before I wake up in the morning.
- (Oh, and also, on the last “date” we had, I ate so much that I struggled to breathe and I felt like I might vomit. So sexy.)
- I regularly (2-3 times a week, including most weekends) spend at least 6-7 hours at a stretch sitting in a coffee shop working – work-work, side-gig work, other side-gig work, building my business work, coaching work, grad school work, yoga teacher training work. Sitting on my ass. Working. Staring at a screen until my eyes water and pouring caffeine down my throat.
- I recently did an entire homework assignment in the passenger seat of a car (while driving to another job) at 6 a.m. and submitted it just minutes before it was due.
- I wash my clothes (whoo hoo!) but I haven’t put them away — as in actually folded or hung them up — in months. I pick my clothes out of the “clean” pile in the laundry basket. I feel like a frat boy except slightly cleaner and better-smelling.
- On a recent Saturday, I worked for literally 13 hours straight, and my dinner that night was a bag of trail mix (the yummy kind with M&Ms in it), about 7 spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar, and two Diet Cokes.
And so on.
Please know two things: First, I am not advocating that this is a great way to live all of the time. This is temporary. Secondly, I am not telling you these things in order to complain. My life is full of awesome things right now – things that I wanted, and things that I fought hard to put into motion. I knew going in that this period of my life would squeeze me a bit, and sometimes a LOT, especially given the timeframe and the necessary time commitment required for each one, and I said yes anyway. I am not a victim of anything. The Universe is giving me exactly what I asked for.
And in exchange?
I have to keep showing up, and putting in the work, and doing all of the things required of me – despite how tired I am, or what else I’d rather be doing, or how discouraged I may feel sometimes.
In other words, in order to do this work — my work, and what I feel I’m called to do — I have to be willing to be unbalanced for a little while. And not fight against it (fighting the feeling only makes it worse) or feel bad about it, or beat myself up with the notion that I should somehow be able to manage it in a better way. Instead, I surrender the illusion of control I might still be clinging to and flow with the discomfort and the chaos. It is hard because it is supposed to be hard … and hard does not mean bad.
And what feels right to me is to be honest about it – all of it, every step of the way.
When we are doing the work we are here to do it can be hard, and it is ok to be out-of-balance sometimes. YOU are ok. Where you are is exactly where you need to be.
P.S. Someday I just know I’m going to look back at these years of training and building with such a sense of sweetness and fondness. I can tell already.