How the notion of ‘balance’ has become an unbalanced message.
- Emily Hartridge
Going by the 9 million of us who seem to be discussing #balance on Instagram it’s safe to say that there are plenty of us who are either striving to achieve the holy grail of ‘balance’ or seem to think we have cracked it. I would most definitely place myself in the ‘striving to achieve’ box and should add ‘will also probably die trying’.
I assume that from just reading the subject title, you think I am going to tell you how to lead a balanced life right? Well sorry to disappoint you but I’ll cut straight to the point….that ain’t happening. I am so sick of all the social media bullsh*t preaching about ‘balance’ and advising us how to achieve ‘it’ in 'just 10 Simple Steps’. It’s about time someone spoke on behalf of the 99% of the population who are just trying their best to navigate through the minefield we call ‘life’.
I want to question our perception of #balance and whether we actually need it in our lives...
WHAT DOES #BALANCE EVEN MEAN ANYMORE?
Those of you who are similar to myself and fall into the more ‘extremist’ category, living a balanced life isn’t always that easy. Let’s start with the basics, what does the word ‘balance’ even mean? Enter Google:
‘A situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions’
Ok, I get it. But who’s with me when I say that it seems nearly f*cking impossible to adopt balance for most situations? Life is fast, life is busy, life is non-stop. We pressure ourselves to be ambitious, driven, more successful than our social media peers, to seize every opportunity and be a ‘yes’ person ALWAYS. But, at the same time, we need to make sure we get our daily dose of zen, right?
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure if I was living by a beach in the Bahamas, achieving daily balance and becoming ‘Zen’ might be slightly more achievable.
STOP OVERCOMPLICATING IT.
Am I eating too little? Maybe I’m eating too much? Am I exercising too much? Am I not exercising enough? Should I be sleeping more? Should I be sleeping less? If like me, you have these thoughts on the regular, I’m sure you can agree that it’s all a total MINDF*CK.
What we should or shouldn't be doing is preached by our peers, family and social media influencers that we interact with daily and this is what sends our mind into overdrive: the over complicated and overwhelming amounts of opinion and advice out there.
Break it down. Decide what’s important to you. Is it finding balance with your work and social life? Or balance with your offline and online presence? (in my case….all of the above)
When you take control of what YOU want to balance, it all becomes a lot simpler and easier to deal with.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, RIGHT?
As much as being ‘balanced’ in life sounds UTTERLY delightful, I feel we shouldn’t be focusing on ‘balance’ being a final goal, but more of an ongoing process. Even the Buddha probably never totally nailed this ‘balance’ malarkey because although he clearly led a very calm life, I’m sure at some point he felt a little exhausted from time to time. So rather than trying to stay balanced, think of yourself as practising balancing, over and over (and over and over and over….I mean I could go on) again. So the goal is not become great at it because then I think we add too much pressure onto ourselves, but just to keep practising it.
BE YOURSELF (BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN).
Balance is what balance means to you. If you feel happy, content and satisfied with your situation, then you are probably achieving a nice balance within your life. But then you also might be one of those people, much like myself, who is naturally more excessive and expressive; and works in intense cycles of ups and down. And you know what, that’s OK. I am a highly creative person with ideas and thoughts constantly running through my mind so sometimes I genuinely think I get a bit of a kick out of running around like a headless chicken from one place to next, at the same time as jotting down ANOTHER idea I have had in my Notes on my iPhone (of which there are 10000s).
UNBALANCE YOUR IDEA OF BALANCE.
So just playing devil's advocate here, perhaps ‘balance’ is something I don’t need in my life? Do you relate to this?
As you can see, the debate runs deep and I haven’t totally decided where I stand on it all. As much as I like the idea of leading a ‘balanced life’ and I definitely think there are aspects of my life that could be better ‘balanced’, for example getting into bed at 10pm and STILL scrolling through Instagram at 11pm (don’t judge me, you know you do it too). BUT, I am an extremist and always have been. Combine that with being hugely ambitious, right now for me I am okay with leading a slightly unbalanced lifestyle. I do however think it’s important to remember 3 things:
Don't let the overplayed and over-used hashtag of #balance dictate your interpretion of what the word means to you. Focus on where you want to achieve balance in your life.
Know your limits, I KNOW when I have pushed my mind or body too far and I will very much acknowledge and act upon that. Also know when to kick youself up the arse and get on with things.
Stop focusing your energy on trying to achieve balance. Spend it on things that are more important, like deciding if you can be bothered to shower today... (just me?).
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