All Hail the Imbalanced.
by Jennifer Sey
A friend told me the other day that she schedules an hour of “me time” a week, just to sit with herself, to find some balance. No reading, no kids, no personal handheld devices, no distractions. When she uttered these words, the me I was currently sitting with paused to make sure I was still there even though I was with a friend. Her.
I didn’t realize I was ever without myself. Sometimes I sit with myself while my kids are running around the house, screaming and throwing Legos at each other. Yes, I’m ignoring them, but only on the surface. I’m there to break it up when the karate chops begin; and there to answer questions about how to build the Star Wars hoosiewatz; and I get to be with myself at the same time. I’m also with myself when I’m scurrying around work going from meeting to meeting, from conference call to power point presentation. Sometimes I’m thinking about what I’m going to write when I get home, sometimes I’m thinking about how to make sure my youngest feels like he’s his own person and sometimes I’m thinking about both of those things at the same time. All while officially at work, doing what I’m paid to do.
It’s all mixed up in there like some kind of sloppy mud pie, all my disparate selves concocted into one busy, crazy lady. I’m not always 100% present in every moment, sometimes I’m in many moments at the same time. A tad on the frantic side of sanity. But mixing it up like that works for me. I actually like the hysterical chaos in my mind.
I think I may be alone in my appreciation for the madness. I find these days everyone is striving for balance. Especially women. Women are obsessed with it. We want to be moms, professionals, wives, friends, daughters and have this new fandangled BALANCE thing – that fabled halcyon calm of divided selves at peace with each other.
I’ll admit, I got swept up with the Gen X mom balance seeking trend for a time a few years back. It seemed another worthy goal to strive for. Add it to the list! I want a satisfying professional life! A fulfilling marriage! A relationship with my kids that is deeply enriching but doesn’t define me! But I want to do all this with a profound sense of knowing and purpose and overt easy calm. Om.
In an effort to find this peace with a schedule that frankly wouldn’t allow it, I added to the stress and strain. I went to yoga, breathed deeply, considered working less, finding more “me time.” And while I never was one to go in for self-help books, I engaged therapeutic assistance in seeking the balance.
After all the necessary first session introductions (I’m Jen, nearing 40, I’ve got kids, I work, I sometimes feel a tad overwhelmed…just a tad though), I described myself to my therapist as “manic depressive light”. With a scoffing laugh and head toss, of course. I expected him to comfort me with a wave of the hand and an earnest “There’s no such thing. You’re just fine.” With a pat on the knee, he would set my mind at ease while conferring that lithium and electric shock therapy would not be in my future.