When I was younger, I was a master at chilling. As I got older, and really, as I started blogging, it seemed like chill time was hard to come by. Always having things on a to-do list that needed to get done by a deadline and the feeling of never, ever turning off became a way of life for me. It’s an exhausting way to live, let me tell you. But, I loved my work. I love my work. Being perpetually busy and overwhelmed is really not the way to take advantage of all that life has to offer, though.
It got to the point where people were always saying to me, “I know you’re so busy, but…”, or, “If you’re not working…” before they invited me to do something. They usually came in with the expectation that I would have to decline anyway.
That’s when I started to think, “Hey, I’m not that busy that I can’t pick up the phone and call a friend, or attend a family member’s event.” I didn’t want the people I care about apologizing for wanting to spend time from me or hear from me. This was one of those situations where it wasn’t them, it was me.
I had become a workaholic. The thrill of the deadline had taken over my life, and work was taking precedence over everything else that was going on in my life.
A few months back, I made a real shift towards true work/life balance. I had tried it before, but it didn’t work because I didn’t really internalize it. It’s not just enough to say, “I’m not a brain surgeon. I don’t have to be on call all the time.” I had to really believe it, even when the folks I was working with or for didn’t necessarily subscribe to the same belief.
Part of that goes back to my people pleasing tendency, and not wanting folks to be unhappy with me. I always think back to a position that I had a couple of years ago. I was a contractor hoping to get hired at the time, and one of the senior staff members emailed me on a Saturday to do a personal task for him. I figured I’d wait until Monday, but then my boss emailed me to follow up and make sure I received the request and asked me to take care of it immediately. Ayva and I were still new to Oakland, and I had taken her out to explore and for pizza, yet here I was on my phone trying to handle business that certainly could have waited.
As much as I would have loved my boss to tell him I’d do it on Monday, really, I was a grown woman. I should have said just said no. I didn’t that time, but I have many times since then.
Balance, baby. It’s happening.
That’s not to say that there won’t be times when I will have to order pizza for my family or miss an event because duty calls. Those times, however, because of the field that I work in, shouldn’t be every single day. If they are, I’m doing something really wrong.