So, I’m Failing At This “New Me” Thing
How’s your work-life balance?
About a month ago, I wrote a story after taking a two-night solo getaway where I discussed my desire for less screentime. I read some excerpts of a book called The Power of Off and decided that I want a different life.
With more off time.
So, I ordered the book as soon as I returned to my hotel after paging through it in the spa.
In another story, I mentioned how I still hadn’t even taken the book out of its envelope from Amazon 2 weeks later.
Two days ago, I took my daughter to an indoor bouncing facility. The kind of place with tons of inflatables to bounce on, climb up, and slide down.
I finally took The Power of Off out of its mailer envelope! Stuck the book in my purse. I was ready for my screen-free time.
This may or may not be shocking, but I didn’t even open the book once while we were there. Instead, I chatted on the phone with Shaunta Grimes about an upcoming project and then finished up a story.
In my mind, I always think I can accomplish so many things during the day, but in reality? I don’t.
I never accomplish as much as I’d like.
Does that make me a failure?
I’ve been debating how I ought to feel about my workaholic status where I can’t even seem to read one book.
Am I on the completely wrong path? Maybe this is some kind of character flaw…
Yet the more I think about my failure to keep all of these balls in the air, the more I think that maybe I’m not failing so bad after all.
Last month, I wrote:
My goal as a writer has now changed into finding balance. I want to write about that. Single motherhood, writing from home, working online, maintaining healthy relationships--all of these things cry out for balance. And I want to become a go-to writer who tackles those things.
This is me tackling balance.
I never said that I was going to be good at balance, and I never said it would be easy either.
My whole “brand” is all about awkward and honest writing. What’s more awkward and honest than writing about my failure to even crack open a book I first brought up a month ago?
It’s not all bad, I promise.
Early in my writing career, I wrote about the importance of taking our wins as they come without worrying whether they are big or small.
I still believe it matters. I still believe in the importance of becoming our own biggest fans.
When we feel defeated, or like a failure, it’s helpful to take a closer look at the situation and discover where we might actually be doing well.
The reality is that I haven’t found my sweet spot for work-life balance. And truthfully, it’s possible that I never will.
Even so, I am at least aware and thinking about bringing my life into better balance. In fact, I’ve taken some important steps already.
I am taking time off work for a vacation with my daughter.
I’ve got 5 nights booked in a hotel in Atlanta at the end of June. This is going to be the first vacation we’ve ever had and it will be a great mother-daughter time.
Just like my little solo getaway last month, I’ve promised myself to do no writing. And I know I can stick to that because it’s vacation time. It's an investment in living.
There are a few things that make this upcoming vacation a win in my book. It’s time with my daughter, time making new memories, and a significant break from writing.
But it’s also a mindset shift. Going on this trip means I’m giving myself the approval to make less money. And I’m giving myself permission to spend some money too.
All of these things are part and parcel to leading a more balanced life.
Behind the scenes, I’ve been giving myself a little bit more downtime too.
For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I have lost a certain sense of urgency when I write. I don’t think that this is a bad thing by any means. I think it’s a natural thing.
And I know it’s hard for anyone else to see exactly how much I’ve been trying to give myself more of a break lately because I’m still writing daily.
I think of it as baby steps. When I have a great idea for a new story, I don’t push myself to finish with no regard to my own needs for a break.
Sometimes, I write shorter pieces. Or I sit longer on the real emotional ones. And sometimes, I run errands or take my daughter to the library before settling down to write at night.
None of this is perfect work-life balance, yet I know it means something that I’m even thinking about and attempting these baby steps.
It’s okay to be a fuck up, you know?
The other day when offering some writing tips, I wrote:
You can be successful and a fuck up all at the same time. Fucking up some parts of your life doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay stuck in all of it.
Of course, when I wrote that, I was saying it to myself as much as anybody else.
When I say I want to tackle balance as a writer whose life is all screentime all the time, I know that balance is already a significant struggle for me.
I flunked out of college because balance was so hard for me. I could do well in three courses but not six. In high school, it was the same thing, but with a better ratio. I only struggled in one or two courses at a time.
I don’t have a neurotypical brain, but I was raised as if I was a neurotypical kid. So I try to keep that in mind.
Juggling isn’t one of my strengths. It’s true that I might fail in plenty of my endeavors, but I’m not a failure across the board.
Neither are you.
I’m still tackling balance… honestly.
When it comes to honest discussions about work-life balance, take it from a mom. I don’t think there’s any reality where we have all of the balls in the air at exactly the right time.
This shit is difficult, and I’m not afraid to say so. Not afraid to chronicle my extremely messy journey.
As a single working mama with a kid who’s not yet in school, I don’t know how anyone juggles everything. Writing, parenting, cooking, cleaning, and living well? I’m doing alright whenever I feel like I’m nailing 2 out of 5.
Of course, that means the other three fall by the wayside. Typically, the cooking, cleaning, and ahem… living.
I used to feel so ashamed about that.
But now? I am able to recognize that what I'm doing, and what I’m trying to do is really hard.
Motherhood is hard. Single parenting is hard. Building a writing career is hard. Managing depression and borderline personality disorder is hard. Living on the spectrum is hard.
Battling my weight? Hard. Managing my daughter's sensory issues? Living with my mother's mental illness and trying to have a personal life?
It's all incredibly hard.
Failing to balance all of that shit is not failure across the board. It's just life. Living is hard. Balance is hard for most people.
My advice for the day? Life is hard enough on everyone, so quit being so damn hard on yourself.
I still want a different life, and maybe you do too.
But I'm working on it.