Redefining Balance

As a child, I loved going to gymnastics class and putting one foot in front of another on the balance beam. Balance, it seemed, was my strong suit, and this one of the first times I ever felt like “I am such a badass.”

Okay, so maybe the 6-year-old me didn’t quite think that particular sentence, but you get the point.

One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of the word “balance” is “a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.”

I’m currently balancing motherhood, marriage, my career, family, friendships, and self-care.

The definition suggests that each of those need to receive proper amounts of me or be treated with equal importance. Does this mean I should give about 16.7% of myself to each of those life categories?

Is it fair to give only 16.7% attention to my children? Don’t they deserve the best of me? What about my career, my marriage, my family, and friendships? What about my own basic needs? 

Balance, in my opinion, brings up more questions than it answers. 

While I’m far from feeling as badass as I did on the balance beam at six-years-old, I’m coming to the realization that maybe I need to redefine my definition of what I expect balance to look like.

Balance is individualistic

What feels like balance in one lady’s life may not look like it to another woman. 

How easy is it to scroll through social networks and think, “Damn, she really has her shit together”? What you don’t know is what life looks like behind the scenes. Does she live on only 4 or 5 hours of sleep at night? Maybe she has a virtual assistant or hires a housekeeper or gets her meals delivered. Maybe this woman you’re admiring looks like everything is so well put together, but feels like she is failing at everything in her life. 

Do you, and don't worry about anyone else.

Balance and appearance are not interrelated

Society expects us to juggle a career, family, friendships, hobbies, and more all while looking beautiful and happy. Don’t assume that the woman in the designer suit you saw out to lunch has balance anymore figured out than the woman at the supermarket in yoga pants, a stained sweatshirt, and straggly hair.

Balanced is planned and strategic

Balance doesn't happen on its own. First, plot out how you want to feel and what it is you need to accomplish. Then, take action. Organize your calendar so that you allocate your time for what feels balanced to you. If that means you need to schedule monthly get togethers with your girlfriends, then do it. Maybe you’ll need to include “me time” away from your spouse or children. 

Your emotions guide your experience

If you’re looking to find a more balanced life, keep an eye on your emotions. Stress from one part of your life can creep into another quickly. If you’re arguing with your spouse, work it out before it affects your work. Similarly, the more you let work into your personal life, the less time you’ll have for self-care and the important people in your life.

So, what about you? How does balance fit into your life? Let us know in the comments.

Erin Ollila graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. She believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She lives in Southeastern Massachusetts, neighboring Providence, Rhode Island, one of her favorite small cities.