When school ended for the semester, I crashed and burned in an inevitable hibernation in front of Netflix. This happens to me twice a year: I do the bare minimum, completing only what I have to do to sustain my life and not lose my jobs.
After two weeks and a complete viewing of not one, but TWO Netflix Original Series (highly recommending Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Killing, BTW), I feel a whole lot better.
This is a pattern for me. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl and when I crash, I crash hard. During my two weeks on the sofa, I thought a lot about balance. Is it possible to accomplish what I want to accomplish and still have the time and energy to be a functioning member of society? Is it possible to avoid these violent swings between hyperactivity and barely being alive?
I’m emerging from the funky fog, and summer is looking pretty darn good for me. I’m headed to Dublin in about three weeks for a study abroad program that is sure to knock my socks off. Before that, I’m teaching a summer school class and experiencing what life is like for a normal person. You know, I go to work, for about 40 hours a week, and the rest of the time is spent mostly in leisure.
I’m reading a book (a fiction book!). I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle. I’m getting excited about getting married. I have great aspirations of making it to the beach. I’m thinking about having friendships that don’t revolve around work (never mind – who am I kidding?!?).
It’s totally weird: for the first time in a long time I have a certain degree of balance in my life, and it’s causing a pretty high level of anxiety. It feels like I am forgetting something I should definitely be doing.
I had this epic realization a couple days ago that this is what normal people’s lives are like.They go to work, they come home, and they do things that aren’t work in the evenings and on weekends. It’s totally freaking me out. At the same time, I feel well-rested, and well-rounded. There are advantages to workaholism – sanity is not one of them. My mentor at school is one of the most productive people I’ve ever met, and yet, over a glass of wine one evening, he admitted that he doesn’t feel busy.
I’ve read dozens of articles about working harder and not longer, about increasing productivity, and about the “habits of highly effective people.” People who are good at being busy don’t feel busy, and have time to experience the balance that I’m currently living. As I learn to slow down just a bit, I find I have more time to stare at the wall and think about things that are important to me, to do things that I think are fun, and to nurture relationships that I value. With any luck, I might also create more thoughtful writing, with fewer typos.
Not a bad gig, being a normal person…