I Think Balance Might Be A Buzzword

A lot of young people (specifically women my age and younger) reach out to me asking for advice on internships, school, and art. Most quote bullet points off my resume and share some of their long term career goals. But without fail, the number one question I get by those reaching out via dm/email, in interviews, or even just by those around me is

“How do you balance it all?”

The “all” they are referring to is a full course load at university, the maintenance of a website, interning, and a social life. The “all” is based on imagery. Information I share via Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media site. It’s the silly selfies with my boyfriend or family, BTS photos of the Light Leaks, and boomerangs of report page counts.

This is what is seen and shared of my life so it is what strangers know about me. My life is typical for a creative young person, especially for someone who wants to go into film/tv. Almost everyone I know has a side hustle! Sometimes I don’t understand why others ask me for advice but then I reexamine what I consider normal and I start to see what others see.

It’s the concentration of 8 media internships in the last 3 1/2 years, the Light Leaks, having (and giving up) the opportunity to finish school early, releasing 15 videos in the past 4 years, PA work for Nike/Verizon/Vogue/NBC, and the new speaking events that have popped up on my radar.

I look at these things and I’m proud of myself. But because I know the work behind them, they feel normal to me.

Last night, at 2am, I was crying in my bed. I’d just written a 10 page paper, and I was taping up my knees. I have patella tracking and although the pain is under control — I’ve dealt with it for about three years — it flares up when I feel stress or anxiety. Last night the pain was so bad that I couldn’t walk across my room or stand steadily. I was taping up my knees when I got a DM on Twitter from a student my age asking for career advice, explaining a few quick insecurities then ending with the question that seems to dictate my life:

“How do you balance it all?”

Today, I cried trying to braid my hair today because I was running late and I couldn’t get my fingers to cooperate.

For the last week, every meal causes a stomach ache.

The last month, I’ve been pushing myself to sleep at regular times, but my body is finding it hard to slow down.

But I know why this pain is all happening !I’m in finals right now! It’s a crisis college students everywhere are facing. I’m in finals and also on a job search right now on top of regular obligations of interning, classes, and being a person. I’m finding it difficult to take a moment to myself because frankly, my teachers think it’s fun to have everything due during the same time span. I’m anxious and that’s OKAY.

I’m bringing these incidents up because for me to talk about “balancing it all” would be nothing if not for a simultaneous explanation of my issues with anxiety. I’m 22 and I’ve dealt with anxiety for 7 years. For 7 years, I’ve handled random things happening to my body that felt out of my control. Most days, I’m not anxious. I’m usually fine as I try to identity triggers early and follow a plan of action. But today? Last night? Not my best days. And that in itself is difficult to write.

The last thing I want is for any other person, especially any of the young women who message me, to think that in order for them to succeed and develop as the multi faceted goddesses they are, they have to sacrifice other parts of their life. Comparisons to others are made commonplace through the sheer amount of imagery we ingest through social media. We admire people and seek their secret roadmap to success.

You may be anxious, and that’s okay. Anxiety and what it does to your body does not make you abnormal. It’s a reaction as natural as a swollen welt after a bug bite- a bit uncomfortable, sometimes awkward to show others, but something that will fade.

I feel that “Balance” is more of a buzzword than something anyone could truly give advice on. What it takes for myself to personally feel balanced may be ridiculous to another person. I work to get my art out there and to support the causes I believe in. It can pile up sometimes and it can be really hard. I “balance” simply because the things I’m doing are all things I want to be doing and they coexist with each other. But I can feel drained like any other person.

It can be difficult to step back and look at your personal accomplishments, truly taking them in. In pushing to be at 100% in so many facets of our lives, we forget that aspects of our lives such as school, mental health, relationships, and work are not meant to be accomplished via multi tasking, but instead are meant to be coexisting.

I will never achieve balance because I don’t believe it to be a stagnant state; it’s one that constantly evolves with the realms of my life. And I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay not to have all of the answers- the question of balance doesn’t seem to simply be about that but moreso a question about perfection. Being human allows us the luxuries of failing and feeling weak sometimes. I think we have the ability to use our 100% or whole selves in our lives by dedicating parts of ourselves to each realm of our lives. These things we choose to dedicate time to make us who we are and I think that’s beautiful and more important than a universal balance that so many strive for.