Balancing life can mean compromise
August 25, 2005
An article in the September issue of Latina magazine caught my eye, “The Perfectly (Un) Balanced Life” which asks, “Who says we mujeres must have a perfectly made bed while making it to the top?”
This stopped me in my tracks because, well, I’m a woman who usually leaves home with a perfectly made bed, and yet I haven’t quite made it to the top.
Sometimes I get hung up on the details, like fluffing the cojines. I like my fringe-trimmed throw pillows arranged just right. This morning ritual is about perfection. Maybe not so much as having a Martha Stewart-made bed. It’s more of a statement saying, “I’m ready to tackle whatever the day has in store!” And there’s also something nice about coming home at night after an exhausting day to a perfectly made bed.
I must admit, though, there are days when I don’t feel like making my bed, let alone getting out of bed, and I’ve toyed with the idea of being “normal” and living with an unmade bed for a day. But something always holds me back. It’s like, if my bed’s not made, then something else will fall apart that day. But I realized recently that I’ve been placing unnecessary pressure on myself, and perhaps I’ve been setting myself up for a big fall.
The writer of this above-referenced article, Mirta Ojito, goes on to say, “There are days when I’m too tired to impose a television curfew ... but I’m consistent with the things that matter.” Now that’s the key, I thought aloud, focusing on the things that really matter.
Perhaps this well-made bed represents my need to feel like I have it all under control when I should just chill out and let God be in control. And that’s when I realized that the key to being perfect is allowing yourself to be imperfect, and the key to living a balanced life is allowing yourself to shake loose and be a little unbalanced for awhile.
Instead of constantly nagging my daughter Laura about her homework, I should loosen up, trust that she’s maturing into a responsible person and make sure she’s developing in more important areas, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially.
I was really uptight last semester when I had a nightmarish schedule and would scream when things got out of whack. But I noticed that when I did allow myself some flexibility and to have a little fun, it made a world of difference. I’d feel guilty for going out with friends but it was these refreshers that made my load more bearable.
In other words, having too much expectations on yourself, and not Plan Bs or Plan Cs, can lock you into a miserable state of perfection, which is completely pointless.
I struggled with this as a full-time reporter and single mom living in Hobbs in the late 1990s. My life was a ratrace. I spent all week trying to meet deadlines, getting my daughter to school and helping her with homework while also doing a lot of work at home at night.
On the weekends, it was worse. I’d rise early and try to beat the clock, rushing to do my chores, grocery shopping, laundry, exercising, washing my car and doing yard work. I’d then lie down exhausted at night and wonder where the weekend went. Everything would be perfect and in place, but I was exhausted and miserable.
My body ached for balance.
It’s hard for us parents to find that perfect balance in life. You know what I mean. You’re at work, or in my case, studying, and you feel guilty for not spending more time with family, and when you’re with family, you feel guilty for not spending more time working.
After a lot of trial and error last semester, and after running my head into a wall many times, I realized there had to be a compromise. Our education and careers are always going to be works in progress. You can’t put your life on hold, like I’ve tried to do, saying things like, “When this semester is over,” “After I graduate” or “When I get that promotion.” We have to make the most of today, regardless of what stage we’re in.
That, my friend, is living a perfectly (un) balanced life.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: email@example.com