Photo by Evan Clark

Work-life balance, you’re bringing me down

I am and always have been a worker. I believe that anything is possible, that I can do it if I focus my energy and that I have to work really fucking hard to get there. Since I was, like, 4 years old.

Not to say that I don’t also laze around, hang out, get drunk, enjoy nature, blah blah blah. I do plenty of this when I feel like it. I never force myself to work. I just love work; I don’t see it as a bad thing. I love creating, analysing, solving problems, challenging myself, designing universes, learning. It’s my default mode, if you like. And when I’m not feeling it, I also like swimming in the sea, cooking, drinking wine with friends, watching stand up comedy, and so on…

But society (and particularly Danish society) beg to differ.

I feel pressured, from many sides, to conform and behave like everybody else, to work 9–5, to go out every Friday night, to binge-watch series on Netflix instead of spending that time creating and contributing some kind of value to the world.

I feel judged. Seen as a little freak, a self-punisher, an over-worker, or someone trying to prove something, “thinking she’s better than us”, that kind of thing. Living a little differently from the norm does not go down well with those who live by the norm. But I have a little suspicion I’m not the only one who’s feeling trapped by this obligation to be normal.

I’ve really tried out living “normally” over the past two years since I moved to Denmark. Partly a need to fit in in the crazy homogeneous society I’ve chosen to live in. Partly because I trusted the critics more than I trusted my own instincts. If everyone — including those closest to me — was of the opinion that my ambition and insane devotion to projects was not a balanced way to live, they must be right, right?

Well they are right, the way I work most naturally (manic obsessive mad artist creative) isn’t very “balanced”. But fuck balance, I don’t care about balance, I care about creating things. It’s what drives my passion, joy, and gives me more energy than a 9–5, gym and good sleep routine ever did.

Balance is different for each of us

There is not a recipe for a balanced lifestyle that we can all follow and get the same results. For me it’s about following my instincts and urges, whether it’s staying up all night sketching because I’m so obsessed with an idea that I can’t sleep, or pissing off to the countryside to wallow in nature for a whole weekend because I have no inspiration or am suffering from too-many-people-messaging-me anxiety, or something. I guess I fit the artist/diva/asshole profile nicely. The difference is, I’m embracing it now, and I refuse to apologise for it.

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