I’m working my way back to blogging here because it has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and I swear my next posts will actually be about film, television, and books.
What I’ve been thinking about a great deal is how do we frame our lives in ways that don’t leave us wanting? How do we do the things that nourish ourselves while also staying on top of all the responsibilities that essentially bind our lives? So many people say it’s all about making time and setting priorities. In the higher education/student affairs world (field) that I spend most of my professional time in, people talk about “work life balance.” Frankly that concept frustrates and annoys me. The various roles of our lives cannot be weigh on a type of scaling system in which they all “balance out” in the end like the scales of measure or balancing a check book. It is not a zero sum game. So how then do we integrate all of those roles into one person’s life?
For the past few years, I have been working full-time on a Ph.D. program and working my full-time professional position as a student affairs professional (a hall director to be precise). I have told myself that once I finished my coursework it would be better. I’ve hit that marker., and yet . . . I feel no less like I’m dropping the balls that I’m juggling (By the way, let’s hear it for tons of metaphors throughout this post). Actually in some ways I’m feeling that far more than the previous two years.
I’ve also been having conversations with other people (authors, faculty, administrators, student affairs folks, classified staff, etc.) about this topic. Many people say that something’s got to give and usually from what they are sharing it is the things that they do for their own joy and pleasure–such as reading and watching films and television. Some report periods in which they are hyperfocused on work (their writing, their publishing, their teaching, their fill-in-the-blank job) and neglect the relational aspects of their lives–sacrificing time with their families, friends, partners. Very few people I’ve talked to feel like they are making all the pieces of their lives work smoothly. So for those who are making it work, what are your strategies and methods? Does it always boil down to “taking off” one of our hats? And what if that’s not an option? How do we reframe this conversation in a way that feels more productive and more helpful?
It’s more than just time and priorities as such. How do we not get buried under the things around us that impact our emotional, spiritual, physical well-being: our pasts, the traumas in our lives, and the world around us (from mid-term elections and to work), and the hot social issues that really push our buttons (from #GamerGate to Sexual and Gender Violence issues, etc.)