I am obsessed with order, symmetry, perfection. I hate gray areas, in-betweens, grounds of ambiguity. Last year, I strove for an all-or-nothing “balance” that I thought would regulate and organize my life.
However, what I’ve realized is that balance is not about “extremes” leveling each other out. It is not always about saying a hard yes or a hard no. It isn’t about making a definite decision. Rather, a true balance is about finding the middle ground that I have hated so much.
Last year, in an effort to maintain a “healthier” lifestyle, I granted myself “cheat days” where I crammed 3000 calories into my petite 5-2 body, then depraved myself for the next week. I sweat until my muscles shrieked at the gym, then spent the rest of the month sedentary on a couch with my laptop. It was either a diet day or an indulgence day, a day of motivation or a day of apathy – and there was nothing in between.
In order to create financial stability, I gave up shopping entirely for the year. My thought process was that I wanted to put more of my money toward travel and less toward material goods. Because I did not spend a single cent on anything except absolute necessities like food and school supplies – I could afford to attend concerts I always dreamed of, I went on spring break with my best friends, and I embarked on two road trips that changed my life.
I was so close to seeing this resolution to the end of the year, but I cracked after ten months, and went on an online shopping spree to satisfy a year’s worth of purchases. So much for saving money. However, though this resolution compartmentalized my priorities and gave me some of the most amazing experiences – it was another unhealthy extreme. Material goods are not always fulfilling in the ways they should be – but sometimes, instant, fleeting happiness is necessary. On my binge, I bought a sweater with a silly cartoon from the Up film on it – something I definitely did not need – but an item I wear every single week, and one that makes me giggle giddily every time. I still believe in my ideal that more should be spent on experiences rather than material goods – but moderation is vital to living a happy life.
Another prominent resolution I made last year was to keep a daily blog – something I proudly called “Project 365.” Writing each and every day definitely extended my creativity, and in retrospect, I do see a vast improvement in my work. I became more motivated toward pursuing a career in writing, and each day I became more productive. It seemed like I simultaneously resolved my problems of procrastination. However, devoting two to three hours every day to write, often when exhausted or uninspired – that is more detrimental than helpful. I endured for about 50 days, and then I slowly spiraled into a semester of deep anxiety issues.
Writing, especially when it demands heavy introspection – it is the fastest route toward burnout. The Xanax bottle still sit on my desk, a bright orange reminder that even ambition must be taken in correct dosage. Lack of inspiration is not be an excuse not to write – but the brain of all content creators need a break sometimes.
Perhaps my case is extreme in itself, but we all fall too heavily on extreme ends of the spectrum in some aspect of life. Let this New Year be one of balance, because middle grounds are what stabilize our scales to create equilibrium.