Let the Paper Plates Fall
If you’re like me, what used to be a very relaxing time in isolation, has now become a season of busyness. It seems like there is always something I could be doing. My list is ongoing – projects at work, projects at home, quality time with family, planning and preparation for welcoming a little one, church commitments, and everyday responsibilities – I often find myself juggling multiple thoughts, events, and to dos on the daily. It’s exhausting.
It’s even more exhausting because I get very caught up in the commonly perpetrated idea that with a little bit of will power, I can do it all, have it all, and be it all. So I find myself anxious, thinking about every possible outcome, jotting down things a lot, and blocking out my days into half hour increments. I can do it all, with a little organization! Then on the flipside of that, there are days when the running, running, running mentality takes its toll, and I really just want to be sleeping, sleeping, sleeping – but I feel guilty. There’s just too much to be doing – dishes to be washed, designs to be created, bills to be paid. I’m left exhausted, and never feeling the wholeness of my accomplishments. Can you relate?
In my quiet time this week I remembered a quote that I heard from a mentor years ago.
“BALANCE IS A MYTH.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I first heard this quote years earlier, I immediately wanted to out sunshine the negative perception this quote first struck in me. Even now, I still want to argue, “that’s not true! You can find balance! You just have to be intentional.” But what I’ve learned later is that balance truly is a myth. Because, really, finding balance is embracing the notion that it happens in our admission that it doesn’t ever really happen at all.
See, the word balance implies that everything has its place, and they’re all equal to each other. According to Webster, balance is “to make something steady by keeping weight equal on all sides.” Equilibrium among all those things we juggle in life.
If responsibilities were plates we have to keep in the air, we have quite a bit. We have work plates, family plates, hobby plates, dream plates, expectation plates, church plates, community service plates, house plates, project plates- we have a lot of plates and balance tells us that they’re all equally important, have equal time commitments, and with some organization, have equal priority in our life.
However, if you’re human like me, sometimes two of those plates inevitably come down at the same time, and I’m forced to decide which to catch because that’s the reality of life. I make mistakes, I overbook, I don’t realize how much time a commitment will take when I say yes, I put too much expectation on myself, or something I couldn’t possibly plan for pops up; a sick family member, an emergency, a broken down vehicle, or other unforeseen plate that life manages to throw into my juggling act. Where’s the balance now?
So I learned that the trick to the juggling act is knowing which plates are glass and which plates are paper. Which of those plates will shatter if they hit the floor and leave me with a catastrophic mess to clean up? For example, when a work plate and a family plate both come down at the same time – sometimes I can let a paper work plate drop to catch a glass family plate, and other times, I’ll need to catch a glass work plate and allow a paper family plate to drop.
Life balance is identifying the glass plates. It’s saying yes to the things that require a yes, and being okay that something else might need to be told no in order to catch the glass. Catch the things that will shatter, pick up the things that are paper. Easier said than done, but this perspective has brought me a little relief lately. It takes stress off the juggler and puts emphasis on what’s being juggled. Therefore, the question is no longer whether or not I’m able to catch it, but whether or not it needs catching.
Everyone’s plates are different. What might be glass to you, might be paper to me, and etc. However, regardless of what plates you’re presently juggling, I hope this brings a little relief to the stress that you may be experiencing in your attempt to balance it all.
Let the paper plates fall.
Aubrey Eastway, Brand Ambassador at ULEAD