Sitting at my desk I can feel my mind racing a million miles an hour. I have 500 product listings to manage at work, 30 blog posts that all need Pinterest graphics, 20 New Year’s Resolutions, at least 10 blogs I’m working on at home – Oh, and did I mention I’m trying to go vegan?
This is how the modern era is, thanks to technology, social media, and our own amazing aspirations, the calendar is always full of stuff to get done. Personally, I find that color-coordinating my calendar helps the most. Red is for the important sh*t; Blue is for fun things and social events; Purple is the random stuff like errands; Yellow is anything related to my blog; Pink is for the doctors’ appointments… you get the idea. But that’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about balance. How do we find balance during a time when we have at least 100 goals for ourselves, a full-time job, side hobbies, friends, and a boss to keep happy – all while trying to get to the gym and eat healthy? How?
I may seem like the last person you would take advice about this from, and until last month, I wouldn’t have believed that I would find that balance myself. Fortunately, after a full night of journaling and reflecting on my last year and my aspirations for the New Year, I wrote the words to myself that I most needed to hear. “You do not need to do it all.”
I don’t think I’m unlike many 20-something women my age. I have high expectations for myself, I never say no to new projects and my computer is open to 12 tabs at any given moment. I have gotten so immersed in this digital age that I sometimes feel like I expect myself to be a computer. To be productive all the time and to stay healthy and functioning, even if I’m running low on energy. That mindset is what created the person I was in 2018: a person filled with stress and anxiety, who still couldn’t meet my own expectations. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
I could see while reflecting on the last year that I became so involved in graduating, in running my blog, in my personal goals and in my new job, that I became a wreck (and a rather unpleasant person to be around). So, there I was journaling away on my computer in late December thinking about how overwhelming (but still wonderful!) the last year had been. Although I still had tons of aspirations for the New Year, I didn’t want to bring that same stressful energy along with me.
And I kept writing because it’s medicinal to me. I wrote all about my high standards for myself and how cruel I had been to myself in the last 365 days, all because I wasn’t superhuman. I realized that even on the good days when I accomplished the most, I still beat myself up and thought, “I could have done more.“I could have done one more paragraph, I could have run one more mile, I could have made one more graphic, I could have written one more post… but in the end, I realized that all that did was make me feel terrible. All that negative self-talk and the stress I was putting on myself didn’t benefit me in the slightest. Because at the end of the day, who really cares if I couldn’t do it all? No one is ever going to know that I didn’t create some Pin that I thought up. No one is ever going to know or care that I didn’t stretch that day, or that I only ran one mile on the treadmill. These were goals I set for myself, so why have I been taking them so seriously? No one, no matter how productive and energetic they are, can do everything. It’s just not possible.
In those late hours of typing away, I was discovering for the first time what should have been common sense: I am not a computer; I am not technology; I was not born to be productive; it’s OK if it all doesn’t get done. Moving forward, I wanted to spend 2019 feeling proud of myself. Spending that time embracing every moment of growing my blog, becoming healthier, getting stronger, and learning more. At the end of the day, I want to feel happy with myself because I’m working so hard to improve.
Somehow in that one journaling session, that became my intention for the upcoming year. In 2019, I would end the day feeling happy and feeling proud of myself for what I got done. Even if I hadn’t checked off everything on my to-do list. Even if I hadn’t done all of my self-improvement rituals. That’s how I stay grounded and stay balanced this year. Even though the world continues to demand things from me, and even though I still have a to-do list, none of that is worth my mental health. I am not computer software that been designed to work 24/7. I need sleep, I need days off and I need to treat myself with respect. So do you.
Now whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed, whenever I don’t complete my self-made to-do list, whenever I don’t have the energy to work anymore–I let it be. I remind myself that it’s OK. I’m doing the best that I can. Yes, sometimes I forget to do that. And when that happens, I also let it be. Because you and I, we’re human. You can’t update us like computer software and we’re completely fine for a year. It’s OK if we slip up. The best thing that we can do for ourselves in this digital age, is to feel comfortable just being. To be OK with sitting in silence eating without the TV on and without checking our phones. To feel like we can turn it off in the evenings and relax. To make the thought, “It’s OK if I don’t get this done immediately,” become the knee jerk reaction instead of letting our minds run wild. This year I made the decision to remind myself that I’m a human being, not a human doing. I think that you should too.
I’m not here today to offer you “10 Tips for Finding Balance” or “5 Ways to Relieve Stress.” Because isn’t that just another to-do list? I’m here to give you, and me, permission to just be. To just relax and unplug for a moment. That’s the way you find balance and treat anxiety today. Get comfortable with quiet, with rest, with days off, with being unplugged. Remember what it was like before you had a blog, a business, a smartphone, and social media accounts. Remember what it was like before you had a million responsibilities–and sit with that. When you do, you’ll finally find that balance and that inner peace you’ve been craving in the chaos of modern life.
As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you found it difficult to stay balanced? What were the biggest challenges for you? How have you coped with this even as life continues to make demands? Do you have any mantras, journal prompts or habits that make it easier? Or maybe you’re a badass and don’t have this problem at all! Congrats! Tell me your secret below!
Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.