Today, amongst the many other thoughts pin balling around in my brain, I asked my therapist about balance. Specifically, if it’s possible to find balance while juggling all the priorities that make life feel fulfilling?
(Unrelated, how New York does it sound to start a story with, “I was talking to my therapist”? The answer is very, though perhaps not as New York as yelling at someone for using an umbrella even though it’s actually raining. But I digress.)
It was a conversation that then followed me into my yoga class. Between warrior twos and pigeons, the teacher quietly stepped in between our mats talking about setting down our expectations of needing to do everything. “Adulting is hard,” the teacher said, in what I can only describe as “the yoga teacher voice,” a mixture that sounds like the smell of vanilla and lavender. By this point, having run into the life juggling conversation twice in one day, and later a third time while finishing the book What If This Were Enough? (highly recommend), it felt like a bit of a sign to invite it home for tea. So here I am, with a little note to all the life jugglers out there.
Dear Fellow Adulting Juggler,
Remember when you were a kid, and in-between the endless stream of summer popsicles and evenings spent in the hammock with your cousins, you’d dream about what life as an adult would be?
No bed times. No having to wear dresses on special occasions. No having to eat peas or any vegetable of any sort again! You wouldn’t have to hid eating cookie dough out of the fridge when your mum wasn’t looking, you could walk right up to your own fridge and eat it any time! No having to stop reading to go to bed or cutting off how long you were allowed to play Animal Crossings or when your curfew was! Being an adult would be an endless adventure of getting to do what you wanted, when you wanted, where you wanted.
Growing up, I volleyed between dream careers: First, taxi driver-ballerina, then firefighter, before the dream morphed into vet, taking a quick pitstop at professional piano player before driving through music therapist, doctor, paramedic, pediatric oncologist, and then writer. I imagined I’d have a house full of animals, walls full of books, and probably be living in June Lake on the water. But no where in my day dreams did I ever consider what it actually meant to be an adult.
In reality, being an adult is much more in the vain of being a professional juggler and not even the good kind like my Uncle, whom we’d toss oranges or avocados to in my Grandma’s slim kitchen and watch in amazement as another addition to the flying fruit community did little to change his relaxed expression. It turns out, adulthood is much less “eating cookie dough freely from the fridge” (also due to health concerns) and much more, “Did I pay that bill? When is that person’s birthday again? Okay, if I have a meeting early on Thursday then when am I going to do my laundry at the laundromat, and what do I have in the fridge, and when are the cats due for their shots?”
When I think about the art of juggling adulthood, I like to think of each ball a different shade or texture — some iron, some glass, some rubber that easily bounces back. For me, there is the “taking care of myself physically and mentally” ball, the “being social and nurturing my relationships” ball, the “work” ball, the “creativity and learning” ball, the “travel” ball, and the “community” ball. Before you make the joke, I’ll make it for you, it’s a lot of balls! And often, it feels like not all of them are able to stay in the air at once or that in order to keep one ball high in the air, it means other balls are being dropped and chipped on the floor around me.
But as I was reminded by my therapist, and then my yoga teacher, and then by author Heather Havrilesky, instead of zeroing in on only the things I’m not achieving — the balls dropping to the floor — what if instead I took a breath and realized that today I was more than enough. In a world constant telling us to keep pushing towards our “best selves,” isn’t it a bit of a revolutionary thought to say, “Whatever I am today, wherever I am today, it’s enough.” These versions we call our “best future selves” don’t actually exist. Instead, these flawed, frazzled, wildly juggling humans, that are showing up and trying their best, are in some ways even more magical because they’re real and they’re right here.
This is as much as a love letter to you fellow juggler as perhaps it is a reminder to myself that today, we are all more than enough. Whether we accomplished everything on our to do list, or did one load of laundry, or took the day to delve into our own self-care needs. Whether we were late to every meeting, showing up frazzled and slightly sweaty, or spent the afternoon reading, or doing one thing that scared us. We’re magnificent in all of our jumbled, fumbling glory because at our very core we’re simply a gaggle of humans trying to figure out life to the best of our abilities. That, right now, is more than enough.
We do not need to be juggling everything all the time. It’s okay to sometimes need to put the balls down, take a step back and relax. Some seasons we’ll be thriving as creatives, some seasons our social hearts will bounce from one event to the other with pure bliss, and some periods we’ll find ourselves needing to go back to basics and resetting. It’s easy to feel like everyone else is doing everything all the time when we allow ourselves to voyeuristically stare into their lives from our social media binoculars. This friend works out regularly AND loves their job AND travels the world AND is landing 1201 bylines AND dresses like an artist AND is always laughing and brunching with friends!! Though we try our best to remember that social media is only showing the best edited bits, that fact is a hard one to recall when we’ve forgotten our umbrellas and our socks are wet and our sweaters are beginning to smell and we’re running late for a taco date we promised ourselves we’d be early to. On those days, we have to remember we’re trying our best and that is absolutely enough.
So fellow jugglers who are trying to squeeze it all in, who are excited about learning more things than they have time for, who want to be everywhere and see everything, who sometimes feel like they’ve dropped more balls than they’ve been able to keep afloat, take a breathe. I see you, I’m madly juggling right beside you (probably slightly envious of your much more pronounced juggling arches) and I can tell you, you’re doing brilliant.
Give yourself a break and when you can, try your hardest to be the loudest, most enthusiastic member of your own team. You deserve that level of kindness always.
You’ve got this,