Yesterday I was perusing Facebook during lunch and came upon a post on Huffpost.com about how Elizabeth Gilbert thinks that the word ‘balance’ has become a four letter word and a “weapon that women use against themselves”. I was kind of taken back as I read the headline again and then clicked through to the post. It includes a video of Elizabeth and Miss Oprah chatting about how women have become obsessed with the concept of being balanced.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
“You’re supposed to have balance in your romantic life, in your work life, in your family life, in your health, in your business and everythings supposed to be all evened out, ” she says.
Oprah agrees. “And then we get so unbalanced thinking we’re not balanced,” she adds.
Now I get the point that we shouldn’t feel bad that we’re not balanced, that we shouldn’t use it as a new yardstick against which to measure ourselves. Valid point ladies. But I also think it’s easy to say ‘F-off balance. I don’t need you!’ when you’re one of the wealthiest people on the planet or a well respected published author. And may I also point out the neither of them have children, just saying (and no I’m not hating on people without kids, I’m just saying that having kids adds a whole other dimension to life).
I have a successful career, a devoted husband and two beautiful baby girls. I enjoy running, netflix marathoning and drinking wine. It’s a priority for me to make sure to balance (excuse my french) all of these things to make sure not only my boss and my family are happy, but to make me happy.
Gilbert’s advice was to just let it all go.
“For me, peace comes when I … embrace the beautiful mess that I am,” she says. “And embrace the beautiful mess that you all are, and that this world is, and just let it be that.”
If you’ve read or seen Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir), you’re aware of how easily Mrs. Gilbert is able to let go and just be happy with being a mess of a person. I mean she just up and left her poor husband to go off and eat, pray, love.
Let’s just say I decide to follow her advice and let go. I decide to focus on one area only, let’s say my kids. I might get fired, my husband might leave me, I’d probably
get fat be unhealthy, and I’d be SUPER unhappy. That’s not a beautiful mess my friends, that’s a complete disaster.
For me, balance isn’t perfection. It comes from figuring out my own happiness, and what works for me. In order to be happy, I need a happy husband and happy kids. In order for them to be happy, they need me to be happy with work and feel good about myself and not want to punch people (ie running). Balance is what makes this all work for me.
I think that we need to take Gilbert’s advice with a grain of salt. Don’t let balance pressure you! Don’t stress about being perfect in all areas of your life (or in any area for that matter). Don’t feel like a failure because everything in your life isn’t coming up roses. Embrace your mistakes (laugh and then learn from them), love your family, and most importantly, love and take care of yourself. Everything else will ‘balance’ itself out.
(PS don’t feel judged by Gilbert because she’s ‘anti-balance’. An article she wrote for GQ about her escapades in bartending was the basis for the movie Coyote Ugly. You know, the movie where they dance half naked on the bar. Yeah that one. Enough said.)