Balance. It is the one thing that we have to learn on our own. No one can teach us how to balance; babies have to learn this on their own. The same goes for balance in our own lives, the more abstract balance that has nothing to do with walking or dancing. We need to learn how to balance priorities in life. What is most important to us? What is it that we value above all other things?
Although much can be said for age aiding in the art of balance, even those among us who are older do not always have balance fully mastered. I believe that it’s a lifelong task, to learn how to truly and carefully balance those things which are valued. Sometimes work comes before family, even though we chide ourselves and say that it shouldn’t. Sometimes family comes before God, even though those of us who believe in a higher being believe that it shouldn’t. Sometimes we misplace priorities and think nothing of it in the moment, only to realize later that we have made a mistake.
Balancing priorities is a difficult thing for me to do now. I am in my second semester (out of six) in grad school, and this week I have been bombarded with assignments (and it’s only the first week). Read three chapters here, read four articles there, figure out what to do with these two assignments… It’s challenging for me to sit back and say, “No, I can’t read for fun right now… I need to dig into that horrible hell of a textbook and attempt to decipher what the annoyingly wordy author is trying to say.” (And yes, I do actually say those things to myself. Try reading a textbook by Bruce Jansson and you will understand… oh, and by the way, he writes about social welfare and policy. So it’s even drier than could easily be imagined. Also, the professor for my Policy class gets irked if I ever mention how boring I find policy to be, because she adores studying policy – obviously. As I did that a few times last semester, only to earn her ire unintentionally, I’ve learnt my lesson, I suppose…)
However, although grad school takes first priority in my life right now, I need to remember that I need to take time for what I call “mental health and well-being exercises.” One of these would be writing. Whether it’s updating this blog with my thoughts about life, writing, and books, or if it’s working on my novel here and there (I got another 2,000 words a few days ago, so I am slowly making progress!!), or if it’s fixing myself a mug of tea and writing in my journal… I need to remember that there is a place for all things in my life. Granted, the largest portion of my time will be devoted to grad school – reading textbooks and articles, doing assignments, writing papers, et cetera – but there is almost always room for the “smaller” things that will help keep me balanced over the course of these next five semesters.
What are some things that you do in your life to help yourself stay balanced?