Today's topic is something I've struggled with for years.
Years. To the point where it's been the source of countless arguments with loved ones, the catalyst for several breakups and even a health breakdown or two. And it's one that I won't sit here and profess to you that I've somehow mastered and kicked. No. Actually, I still struggle with it -- every day. I'm talking about work life balance or rather, my serious lack there of.
Perhaps rather fittingly, we're now at the tail end of New York Fashion Week -- a time of year that always tends to throw me into the depths of "I need to do EVERYTHING all at once mode," which, spoiler alert, usually induces some form of the flu or another at the end of it. This year, I'm not sure if there was something about my approach, the schedule of the shows, the limitation of invites from PR companies or heck, maybe something in the water, but I felt much more, well, cruis-y about it all. Not fussed. Not stressed. Just genuinely enjoying myself.
This isn't to say I don't normally enjoy myself during NYFW or any other work-related perk of this blog, because I do. In fact, while I'm sure many other influencers are worried about their row positioning (and perhaps rightfully so?), I'm just darn happy to be in the same room as a runway show. Bottom line: this season, I was much more aware of my balance -- and realistic about it, too.
What do I mean? Well, I think the first misnomer here is this idea of perfect balance. In the past, when I was working at Google AND moonlighting on my blog in the evenings and early mornings, I dreamt of the day I would have this perfect balance. Where 8 hours of work time a day, meant I'd have another 8 hours of wonderful "me" time doing all the "me" things that make "me" feel "ME." (Sorry -- that's a lot of ME.)
The reality? Even when I eventually left Google and starting working for myself full time, my work days are much longer than 8 hours a day (alas, that's entrepreneurial life for you) and once I finally do decide to stop working for the day, there are all the other life admin things I need to check off off my list. Chores. Errands. Making time for meals. Exercise. Commuting. SLEEPING. What's left over is perhaps an hour for that aforementioned ME time.
OUTFIT DETAILS: Paige denim jacket // Paige turtleneck // Paige jeans // Stuart Weitzman boots // Chanel bag // Brixton hat // Lisi Lerch earring + & Other Stories earring (sold out, but LOVE this pair)
In the past, I've just taken that leftover hour, shrugged my shoulders, and said, well let's just fill it with WORK, because I figured the math just didn't add up for me, so why bother? For the sake of this post, I won't bore with a long list of how this approach failed me. Literally FAILED me. But let it suffice to say, I wasn't sleeping much. I wasn't spending quality time with people I cared about. I wasn't eating well and I wasn't making time for simple things like doctor appointments. Yep, that's right. I was paying each month for an insurance plan I wasn't even taking advantage of. I was thriving on this almost always empty gas tank, refueling with the third or fourth cup of coffee -- all the while thinking, "WOW look at all this I can humanly fit into a day."
But at what price?
Life always has a funny way of smacking you up side the head to wake you up. Let's just say, life hit me really hard on the head recently. Like, really hard. Hard that it still stings. Perhaps I'll write about that experience at some point but for now, I'll just say this: I don't want it to hit me again.
These days, I'm making a concerted effort to make that hour or two QUALITY Me Time. Me Time that I look forward to, Me Time that makes me feel recharged. Me Time that makes ME feel like ME again. I have invested in a back massager, some good books, new headphones, and other bits and bobs that will let me unwind. It's not a perfectly equal balance or a complete zen state, and you know what? That's fine. Some days it's really looking forward to a show that I've been DYING to watch. Other days, it's forgoing that last minute press invite because I know I need to catch up on taxes. And some days, it's just the simple act of spending an extra hour at the dog park because I'd rather sit there and read and watch Elvis play, than worry about what image to post next on Instagram. After all, Instagram will be there tomorrow.
Originally, when I was writing this post, I thought I would make it a "guide to how I manage my work life balance" and now, almost nearing the end of my very long rant, I realized, I still don't know exactly how to navigate this struggle. It plagues me every day, the curse of the self-employed, workaholic perhaps. And I wouldn't want to paint a picture that isn't accurate either -- so instead, I'm turning to you guys for guidance (because we're all friends here, right?). What are ways that help you maintain a better work life balance? Asking for a friend. Just kidding. I'm asking for me. 🙂