The Importance of Balance

Balance is so fucking important. It is one of the top three lessons I learned in 2017. Literally and figuratively, if you can’t maintain balance then you will fall apart. Even now, I need a reminder of its importance. In these past couple of weeks, balance has been the hardest thing for me to maintain. I’ve been working an average of five hours at least four times a week (realistically more because of taking on other shifts), interning for four hours three times a week, trying to maintain somewhat of a social life, volunteering with the Crisis Text Line whenever I can, and getting an adequate amount of sleep all in a 12ish hour day. Some would say, “Well you decided to do all of this, can you really complain?” Well, yes, it was my choice to take on all of these things, but that doesn’t make it any less of my reality. I still have to handle the consequences of my decisions, which were different than what I anticipated. It is too late to back out.

The thing about balance is that sometimes you can’t really tell how much is too much when you begin piling responsibilities on your plate. Lately I’ve been struggling to find balance between rest, work, and play. I thought the way I set everything up was going to be fine. But one day of with only five hours of sleep turned into a week of not getting the rest that was needed to maintain the amount of work I was doing. One week turned into two, and it wasn’t until I had to force myself to stay awake behind the wheel, or felt the urge to break down in tears at any minor inconvenience or the thought of fulfilling my responsibilities that I knew I was close to toppling over if I didn’t readjust my routine.

My struggle with balance happened to revolve around work, rest and having fun, however balance is an important quality in practically every aspect of life. Balance is so innate in the universe that nature has its own balanced system that keeps the world running smoothly. Think about the ecosystem and its predator and prey system, even the way rain works. Think about the balance between life and death and how living organisms die so others can be born. Think about how it is encouraged to have a balanced meal to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients. And how its best to balance between the positives and the negatives of life and any given situation. Too much of any one thing can do lasting damage.

Balance is like a spectrum. Understanding when you’ve gone too far in one direction and when you’re holding yourself back is vital. Balance is also like carrying a stack of building blocks. Knowing how much is too much to pile on is key. Everyone’s definition of balance is different, but it maintains the same basic and essential ideology. The most important thing is to figure out what balance looks like to you. Without first figuring out how much you can take on, without quivering under all of the weight, you risk cracking under the pressure. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back to readjust your stack or moving another way along the spectrum. It’ll be worth it to prevent yourself from crumbling.

24 hours in a day

Priorities man

Hello! It’s been a couple months; I’ve been too busy to write and proofread, etc but since it’s summer, I have a little more time on my hands I’ll be posting as long as I got something to say. You haven’t seen the last of me yet.

But since we’re on the topic of busy, and this is the trend right about now, let me just say my unpopular opinion. I don’t 100% agree that you can make time for everything and every person you love the way I used to. I agree with it on some degree because neglecting the activities and people you love will cause a strain. That’s what happens when there’s distance. Eventually you have to shave in some time.  But I would also like to point out, there is only 24 hours in a day.

About three to nine hours of that goes towards sleep, about four to nine hours goes towards making money, which is a total seven to eighteen hours of your day gone depending on your lifestyle. Then there’s the extra stuff: the errands, the classes, the volunteering, internships, the other job(s), your responsibilities at home, etc. And on top of all of that, you also have to take into account the availability of the other people involved; everyone knows how frustrating conflicting schedules are. Of course people make time for the things they want, but it’s unfair and such a huge pet peeve of mine, when people say “If you really wanted xyz that bad then you’d make time for it.”

I’m not saying they’re completely wrong,  but nothing is that basic. People are constantly prioritizing what they do and who they spend time with whether actively or not. Just because you aren’t their top priority at the moment you want to be one doesn’t mean you aren’t a priority. Just because you haven’t gotten to a certain project by a certain timeline doesn’t mean it’s not a priority. There’s only so much people can balance in a day and it’s different person by person. Just because you think you can do it all or make the time doesn’t mean someone else can. Don’t let people guilt you for being busy or convince you that you don’t care about something because of where your priorities lie.

Food For Thought

Topic: Time

Time is an illusion. It’s a human notion constructed to make our messy lives a little bit more organized. Knowing what time it is can be helpful in some ways. For example, we are supposed to sleep during the late pms and early ams. With time it is easier to be on the same page when meeting up with others, when clocking in and out of work to collect a paycheck, and when tracking how long someone’s been alive. No wonder we live by it as if we haven’t molded it! Time is more than numbers on a clock, though. It’s an extensive span of moments, cycles, and seasons. The more I think about time in this sense, the more I wonder how time has affected our lives.

We need time because it helps us heal and grow. For example, when we break a bone, we keep it in a cast to give it time to heal. Getting over a situation or a person takes a while of distracting yourself with your responsibilities and joys, until one day you realize you haven’t thought about it in while. That comes with time and trust me, it’ll happen as long as you give yourself the space. Time will tell how strong your relationships, romantic or not, are. Nothing is created overnight. Forgiving someone who has wronged you means coming to terms with betrayal. Whether you think it is worth forgiveness or not comes with time. Learning who you are, what can you tolerate and what you believe in takes time. Anything that requires any sort of healing or growth comes with time; nothing changes overnight. Some things are a process. Some things you really do have to wait for.
Still, time harms us. It causes us to wait until we hit those major age marks, where we tell
ourselves we can start dating, start driving, start college, start drinking, and rent a car. Then we wonder what it is that is supposed to come next. Some people feel so lost and unsatisfied that they enter midlife crises. It causes us to frequently think about what  we will do next, instead of giving ourselves the space to look around and be content with where we are. It makes us feel as if we are too far behind socially, financially, academically, and career-wise, making some feel as if it is too late for them. The funny things is we never seem to worry about if we are moving too fast.
Time makes us move with a sense of urgency. We’re worrying if we can get it all done by the time expect, even though we fathomed this deadline from thin air. We stress over
getting enough job and life experience, telling ourselves we will take a break when we’re dead. We forget that not everything we do has to have a justifiable reason other than the fact that we simply enjoy doing so.
Time is in short supply. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who can say with 100% sincerity and no hesitation that they have enough time in the day, or even their lifetime, to do all the things they want to do. People even have bucket lists to serve as a reminder of all the things they just have to do before they die. This is connected to how we prioritize the things in life. Because if you were to die tomorrow, I guarantee you would reevaluate how you spent your time today. As we focus a lot of our time on achieving our personal, academic, and career goals, we neglect all the things we say or think we want to do. We tell ourselves we don’t have enough time, and that we will get to it once the free time comes. And surprise!…it rarely does. When it does, it is short lived. Look  at New Year resolutions. We create these at the end of the year as rules to live by for the next
year and get sidetracked way before the sixth month mark comes. Why do we wait so long when deciding to better ourselves or try out a new hobby just to abandon them three months later?

I say it’s because more often than we think we use time as an excuse. We use it to avoid beginning or doing things we subconsciously are either too scared to do, don’t want to do or don’t know how to start. We prolong our distress by telling ourselves ‘time will tell’, or, ‘it’ll come with time’ as if time can really fix our problems. One example of this is when we give second chances to those who have wronged us or say we’ll give them a little extra time to see if anything has changed. It makes me wonder how many distresses in our lives could have been avoided or shortened by taking action instead of waiting for the “right” moment or seeing how things will turn out. But didn’t you just say time will tell? Well yes, in some situations, time will tell, but in others time won’t make a difference. Let’s say you need to have a serious conversation but have been putting it off. The conversation won’t change whether you have it today or tomorrow, it will still be had either way. Whether I work on this assignment today or tomorrow won’t change the fact it still has to be done. Not doing it just keeps it on the to do list, and keeps you anxious and stressed.
Also, consider time has already told you and you’re choosing to ignore all the signs. The outcome and the answers you are so desperately looking for are there in front of you
but you’re too busy wearing your rose colored glasses to see those red flags waving. This leads me to actively take a step back from situations I’m skeptical about to
look at the bigger picture. Things look different from up close; things look different with rose colored glasses. Our stubbornness, determination, fear, and hope prolongs circumstances that we don’t want to be in anymore, that we ultimately want to change. It makes us wait to go to the gym, or cut our hair, end or start a relationship, find a new job, read that book, or start to volunteer when there truly is no point in waiting or putting it off.
And think about what could be created by taking action instead of waiting! Time gives
opportunity. “Good things come to those who wait,” promotes the virtue of patience. Though many things require patience, if you think about it this phrase taken out of the appropriate context really just keeps you where you are. Entrepreneurs and public speakers will tell you the same thing; they have told me. You can’t lose or gain weight without putting in work. You can’t learn to play piano or learn to speak Spanish without lessons. You can’t grow or change by waiting for your goals to happen to you—none of those wishes will just magically appear one day. You have to put in the planning, the effort, and the self-reflection. Few things come to you without you seeking them out first. Don’t let fear hold you back.
People fail to recognize that time is loosely another word for experience. The longer we live, the more we experience. Experiences bring lessons that can help us learn about others, ourselves, and the world. In some contexts, when people say “time will tell,” and,
“you’ll know with time,” it really means you need more experience to fully grasp the concept.  And some experiences require work and dedication. Some you have to actively seek out in order to learn. Some you’ve already experienced but choose not to learn from. Waiting with time doesn’t have to literally mean waiting around in hopes something good will comes.

You see, time can be wasted. Procrastination (though entirely understandable) is just wasted time. We all know why we procrastinate assignments. They’re irritating and a lot of work and research that none of us want to think about. Assignments aren’t the only thing we procrastinate though. Overdue conversations, hobbies, exercising and bettering ones self are things we neglect, saying it’ll come with time, once you have time. Now if it’s something you don’t need or want to do, stop trying to convince yourself you want to. That’s an unneeded layer of stress and anxiety you put on yourself. If it’s something you really want to do but don’t think you have time for, write it down and come back to it when you have time. However, that thing people say about “making time for the things you really want,” is true. If it’s something that really interests you, you’ll make time for it even if it’s just once a year. I understand that life and your goals take up a lot of your day, but just think of the possibility that when you say you don’t have time you are really making an excuse. There’s nothing wrong with making excuses for unwanted experiences, as long as you own up to it. Again, if it’s something that would be cool to know or experience but you don’t actually want to do, stop pressuring yourself to do it. If it’s something you think you should do due to others expectations, stop pressuring yourself to do it. We’re are hard on ourselves as it is. No one needs that unnecessary added pressure.
When it comes to being unsure of how to start something you say you don’t have time for, you only need to know the first step or two, maybe even just have a rough idea. This is one of those circumstances where time will tell , but time will only  lead you to an answer once you actually start the process. It’s like driving a car. The car won’t move until you put the key in the ignition and step on the gas. Until you put things into motion, you will be sitting there until you take some sort of action. Once you do, you start moving and the longer you keep your foot on the pedal, the more distance you travel. The more you drive the closer you get to your destination and the farther you get from where you were.
Time is valuable. The honest truth is that we don’t know how much time we have. We don’t know how much time those we love have. That’s why it’s important to say what you need to say, and do what you need to do before its too late. It’s important to remind those we love how we feel. It’s of the utmost important to make time for ourselves. Ensure our contentment. Do what we want to do and not do what we don’t. Don’t allow anyone to waste your time, including yourself. Its our biggest commodity.
It’s crazy how something seemingly so simple is so complex.On the one hand we need time; we would be so lost without it. But on the other we let something that doesn’t actually exist outside of human minds make our own lives complicated.  Time does and means so many different things to different people. What matters is that it aids you instead of hinders you. That you feel like you’re using your time the way you want, and learning from the experiences. See, I believe time’s an illusion, a human notion constructed to make our messy lives a little bit more organized. Time harms and accelerates us. Every once and a while time gives us answers, but more often than not, it doesn’t give you what you want to see or hear. We always use time as an excuse, whether valid or not. We waste our own time and we waste others. It holds us back and makes us anxious and fearful, though we don’t even know it. Yet, it’s probably the most valuable thing we have. Do what you will with it, but respect how fleeting it is.

Optimistically Realistic

My new mantra

Life has lead me to expect a version of the worst. It’s not that I consider myself pessimistic, but I can wholeheartedly say there is very little that is worse than being super excited and ending up disappointed. Or than doing all the “right” things and coming up short. Or finally getting what you want, just to have it all taken away from you. This goes hand in hand with the fact that I’m annoyingly empathetic. Sometimes I may come across as not genuine. But the more you get to know me, the more you know that I mean every single heartwarming and encouraging thing I say, even if we aren’t best friends, even if I barely know you. This empathy makes me feel the need to try and fix everything, including things and people that don’t deserve the help or aren’t ready for it. My empathy and excitability leave me heartbroken when I think I finally made it on the right track just to realize I was wrong. Unfortunately, some things can’t be fixed. Unfortunately, you don’t always get what you hope or expect.

To cope with this, my new mantra is to be optimistically realistic. Positivity does wonders for your mindset and your mental health. I’m all here for supporting, promoting, and spreading positivity. But if you’re excitable and empathetic like me, if you’ve become adjusted to things not working out no matter how hard you try, being positive all the time can lead to let down after let down. I’ve broken my own heart one too many times by being super positive without considering the possibility that things don’t work out the way we hope all the time. Eventually I learned that sometimes things don’t work out and sometimes that has nothing to do with you.

Living life is essentially a series of your responses to the shit it constantly throws your way. Sometimes it feels like one of those games where the levels get harder and harder the farther along you get. Positivity sure does make it easier to push through each level, but it also has the potential to knock you down because you weren’t being realistic, leaving you unprepared to deal with the fallout and the possibility of another hardship. This might sound cynical as hell but let me give you a hypothetical example.

Let’s assume you like long walks on beach. So, you’re walking on a beach, the sun is shining, the sound of the waves is soothing. You’re humming to your favorite song, and are now wondering how life could get any better than this. And then out of nowhere it starts raining. That’s no big deal though because you like the rain and you were feeling a little dry as it is. So, you’re singing in the rain and the further along the beach you walk, the more the wind starts to pick up. It was tolerable at first, but soon becomes a problem because now you’re freezing your ass off and the sand’s sticking to your feet. You keep pushing through, and eventually the storm passes. The waves have calmed, and the sun is shining once again. Now you’re back on cloud 9. Once again nothing can phase you. Not much time passes until it starts to storm all over again, but this time the winds are a little stronger and the rain is a little heavier. You stay positive, telling yourself it’ll be over soon, knowing your strong enough to get through it all. You were right. You get yourself through it and once again return back on cloud 9, feeling justifiably untouchable and indestructible. And then it pours for the third time! The wind is so strong you can barely move forward. Each drop dampens your clothing so it’s clinging to your skin. You’re trekking your way along this damned beach, completely soaked from head to toe, shivering from the cold winds, wondering why in the hell you didn’t invest in some rain boots and a coat after the first storm.

Let me break this down. In the metaphor, the rain boots and the raincoat serve as the realistic portion of an optimistically realistic mindset. Yes, it was your positivity that got you through the pouring rain, but by being realistic and preparing for the possibility of a storm, you’re better prepared for when the next storm hits. You are being realistic by acknowledging that rain might or will happen again. But then you ask, “what if a storm never comes? Then I’m stuck carrying around those boots and jacket, bracing myself for the worst.” I feel what you’re saying. In a way, depending on how you use it, realism can hold you back. But let’s be real. This is life we’re talking about. A hardship, similar to the storm, will come in some way, shape, or form into your life again. Life throws little challenges your way on daily basis. If you don’t notice it, you’re lucky.

By being realistic, I’m allowing myself room for the idea that not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Shit happens whether you brought it about or not. It happens even when you are a kind and innocent person who doesn’t deserve the pain life can bring. By being optimistic, I’m encouraging myself. I’m giving myself room to breathe and room to believe. Because sometimes things do work out. Sometimes you get the results you’re looking for. The problem with being overwhelmingly positive to me, is that it has the potential to take me higher and higher so that the day I get let down, I end up falling from a farther distance than I would’ve if I had thought realistically. That’s what tends to happen when you’re ridiculously excitable, reactive and empathetic. Don’t get me wrong; it is possible to reach the same levels of height by being realistic. Whether you do or don’t depends on how you use realism. See, by being optimistically realistic, I look at the whole scope of the situation instead of just what I want or hope to see. Being overwhelmingly optimistic can be blinding. Realism is my version of sunglasses.