The Myth of Life Balance
An article recently caught my eye, and not because it involved a celebrity. (I personally find stories on celebrities to be mind-draining and borderline painful, but I suppose there are people who can’t go a day without reading about Taylor’s current love. People are different.)
This piece focused on a comment Reese Witherspoon made regarding life balance. Or, to be accurate, the lack of life balance when you choose to work while raising a family. The interview in the magazine Southern Living quoted her on work/home balance: “No one’s really doing it perfectly.”
I suspect she’s right, but I’ll go a step farther: I don’t think it’s even possible to have balance. When we choose to do more than one thing - and I think you should be doing multiple things in your life, but that’s another post - we have no choice but to make one a higher priority.
It’s how we actually get things done. Something must rise to the top, or we’d be perpetually paralyzed. If you define the term life balance as simply paying a little bit of attention to everything, then I respectfully suggest you’re deluding yourself. A little bit here and a little bit there isn’t life balance, it’s more a life buffet.
And we all know that at a traditional buffet we might put the same amount of salad on our plate as we do potato salad, but we sure aren’t eating the exact same amounts of each. C’mon, man, it’s potato salad!
That’s how it is with work and family. Sure, we could spend eight hours at work and then try to spend eight waking hours with the family, but are they both getting the exact same amount of attention? Please. As you’re reading this your kids are likely staring at a screen somewhere, oblivious to you.
So if I were you, I wouldn’t beat myself up over a perceived lack of balance. It’s not possible. We can, however, spend quality moments with each. The attention pendulum swings back and forth in any given week or month, with one getting more while the other suffers.
The idea of pure life balance is a myth propagated by self-help-book authors, to whom you gladly give your money in exchange for platitudes that (temporarily) make you hate yourself a little less.
I say: Stop hating yourself. You’re participating in life’s buffet, and this week your job might very well be the potato salad. With any luck, next week your husband and/or kids can be the ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.
Enjoy it all.