I struggle with balance, in every way applicable. My overly practiced tree pose will always be wobbly. I can never find time (or energy) in my schedule to work out, eat, AND be social. My meals often consist of what’s left in the fridge. And, I think it’s very safe to say that the majority of my life is spent in an unstable limbo of confusion, torn between the polarities of what I think I want.
Sound familiar, fellow twenty-somethings?
We might not have the recklessness of our teenage years still running rampant through our veins, but I’d say with complete confidence that we still have the same kind of adolescent fervor for everything we enjoy. Our lives are replete with phases. Chockfull, if you will. When we like something, we really like it, and we soak it up as much as possible as often as possible, until we are so burnt out – we hope we never have to see, taste, or experience that thing ever again. Bars, restaurants, types of liquor – we love it until we hate it. And, then, we easily move on to our next month’s obsession.
I think obsession is an extremely good word for this strange decade of our lives. Everything we like, we don’t just like – we love. We obsess. When speaking of two people in a new relationship, one never hears, “Oh they’re so cute, they’re taking it slow.” No, it’s automatically, “they’re obsessed with each other.” Whether it’s the new Thai café down the street or your favorite yoga teacher who always spends extra time adjusting your downward dog, we are a generation of devotion. We love to be obsessed.
And, I’m not saying this passion and enthusiastic love of things is bad. Heck, it’s what makes us so awesomely fun to be around! But, it starts to be a problem when we love and then hate so many things at the same damn time. It makes it almost impossible to decide what we actually want, what we actually like, and to differentiate those important things from the muck of bi-monthly whims and crazes that seem just as prevalent in our confused and easily swayed minds.
“What do I want?” It seems like such a simple question, but the answer, I’ve found is not nearly as simple. I want everything.
I want to travel the world every weekend (or at least the continental US) and visit the far corners of the country into which my friends have dispersed, but I also want to afford rent and food and electricity. I want to get my masters in London or Prague or somewhere foreign, but I don’t feel like I’m done with Chicago yet. I want a body like Jennifer Aniston, but I also want to share drunken chicken fingers at 4am with my best friends. I want to dive head first back into my yogic lifestyle, but still be able to justify getting wasted on the weekends. I want to be completely independent and nomadic for at least a year, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to the people I love.
So what I’m left with, and what I believe most of us are left with, is an extreme sense of imbalance. Being constantly torn between the severe polarities of everything we desire is an extremely tiring activity when one is conscious of it. It’s confusing, guilt-inspiring, and depressing to realize that we can’t have one thing without abandoning another. And what do we want more? What’s more important? We just don’t know.
To all those questions and more - I say, f*ck it.
We might not be able to have it all at once, but we can certainly try for one at a time. And for the larger, bolder decisions, there’s no shame in taking a deep breath and waiting until the right choice becomes clearer. It’s ok that we don’t know, and it’s ok that we’re constantly changing our minds. It’s ok that we are living breathing contradictions of the person we were a week ago. And it’s really ok that we don’t live perfectly balanced and mature lives. Everything is all ok.
As a society, we spend so much time emphasizing the importance of showing empathy and compassion for others that we tend to forget about ourselves. We can tell our best friends it’s ok when they accidentally break something. We can tell our siblings it’s ok if they can’t make it to dinner. We console and we coddle and we mend everyone else’s heart before once thinking of doing the same for that old friend in the mirror. I’ve gotten on this rant before, but it’s because it’s just SO important.
I’m tired of feeling guilty that I don’t have the time or energy to get to my yoga mat every day (or even some entire weeks). I’m tired of trying to define the “type of person” I am or want to be. I’m tired of trying to balance where or with whom I spend the majority of my time. I’m tired of being constantly conscious of every single decision I make and the impact I perceive it to have on my life.
There’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty for wanting something different than you wanted last year or even last week. We are who we are, and no matter how off-kilter we feel at times, there’s something to be said about that old grain of salt. We’re not perfect, so we may as well stop trying to damn hard to be.
I’ve given up on balance for now. I’ve accepted the wobbly state of my life, and I’m embracing the roller coaster feeling of it all. As long as I can look in the mirror every day with compassion and understanding, it just doesn’t matter if everything else doesn’t quite fit. And I recommend this outlook to anyone who is willing to try it.
Just love yourselves, guys. It'll make the boat sways of your life feel more manageable, and you’ll thank yourself for it every day.