“How do you balance it all?” It’s a common interview question that successful people (and let’s be real here, it’s more often asked of women) are asked.
Balance seems like such a noble goal. Imagine being able to seamlessly be able to float through harmonious waves of family, work, and personal lives being equally successful, present, and focused for it all.
It’s actually possible to achieve balance. It’s just that you might not want it when you get it.
For the past five years, I have put my heart and soul into running and have even turned it into a career. Did my kids get less of me while I banged out 20 milers on Sunday mornings? Yes. Did my 15-year real estate career begin to stall as my love and passion for coaching grew? Yes. Did my marriage suffer? Absolutely.
Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat.
In my perfectly balanced world, I was good enough at everything. Nothing was great, but nothing was too bad either. I was in the elusive state of “having it all.”
But it was only by becoming unbalanced, becoming hyper focused on one thing often to the exclusion of others, that I learned what lit up my world, what brought me true joy.
And it is through the cultivation of that passion that I can become a better person and a better mother.
My kids see my example of working hard and doing what you love, even if it means sacrifice. They know that I love them unconditionally, but also that they cannot demand to be the center of the universe all the time. They are learning to be independent and find their own passions, just like their mom.
The time we spend together is better because I am happier.
But yet our society places a huge value on the artificial idea of balance. Women get the message that they must simultaneously be fit and active, yet not too fit and active that they don’t spend the “right amount” of time with their kids or on their careers.
Balance is boring and overrated. It’s the unbalance in life that carves out who we are. Perfectly smooth, even steps in life are dull, safe, unrealistic, and, I would argue, dangerous to your well-being.
Now that I have achieved my dream sub-three marathon goal, my running is evolving into a smooth flow of mostly running for fitness without any real motivating goal on the horizon. I run about half the weekly mileage I did while marathon training. I’ve been catching up with friends more often, eating a little more chocolate, and twisting myself in knots in hot yoga each week.
I’m am happy, but not driven.
I have found a balance.
So to counteract that, I’ve been saying yes. Yes to things that are out of the box for me.
Yes to my first trail race this weekend, a kayak-bike-run team relay that climbs 2000 feet in 8 miles.
Yes to a fun downhill half that I am woefully under-trained for.
Yes to a miserably hot and hilly team 5k in June just to suffer with friends.
And yes to meeting new people as my 18-year relationship with my husband comes to its end.
Unbalance is scary and unpredictable. But it’s the wobbles and falls and leaps of faith in life that shape and define you.
So how do I balance it all? I don’t. And I hope I never do.