Some things (many things) in life just can’t be helped—controlled, fixed, understood. Sometimes life smacks you into a daze, and it’s all you can do to just move from one day to the next. And that’s okay.
But some days, some times in life, are utterly yours. And it’s up to you whether to mold them into beautiful memories or wasted opportunities. Whether to make the best of the moment or lose it in that void of ever moving Time.
Me, I’m an “all or nothing” type of person. It’s either I’m killing myself getting all the things done at once or completely wasting my life away on Pinterest and cheesy TV shows. And, truthfully, I’m never really happy with either of those types of days.
It’s all about balance.
2015 was a year of doing too much on a constant basis. Of writing and beta-reading and blogging and emailing and keeping up with one thing or another every waking hour. Sure, I was productive, and many things I don’t regret. 2015 was a pretty good year. But by the end of it, when I looked back, I realized my family got left out in the name of “productivity”. Even God was forgotten many days.
As 2016 loomed around the corner, I knew something needed to change. I knew balance was needed. I had no intention of quitting my writing pursuits, but taking a breath every now and again was by no means a bad thing. So 2016 was a year of learning to say “No”. It was a year of giving up beta-reading and not being overly active on social media and spending many, many days watching Doctor Who with my sister.
And that was good. Very good. I still managed to keep up with lots of things, while also saying hi to my family now and again.
But it wasn’t quite the balance I was looking for. Almost, but perhaps not quite.
The problem with me is I’m too hard on myself. If I’m not spending every waking second being productive, I’m bashing myself for it. But then when I do spend hour upon hour on the computer, I’m wracked with guilt for ignoring everything else, not to mentioned creatively drained. And yet there’s still so much I could—should—be doing for my writing. Pursuing publishing is no joke, and there are dozens of things I haven’t even started—working on a query letter, trying to get credentials such as entering contests, writing for magazines, etc., finding literary agents, being more active on social media, attending writers’ conferences, reading more books on the craft. The list goes on and on and on. It’s enough to make me want to hide under my bed and never come out again. It feels as if there aren’t enough hours in a day, enough time in my single life, to accomplish all I want. How am I supposed to accomplish these things without suffocating? Where’s the time for breathing?
And that’s when it occurred to me: That’s up to me.
It would be lovely if we could slow down time, or speed up our productivity. Unfortunately, those things can’t be controlled. But what can be controlled is how we use each moment.
Do I regret those many hours spent last year watching Doctor Who with my sister—laughing and crying and bonding? Absolutely not. Do I regret spending many a day editing Burning Thorns, growing in my craft? Never.
Maybe you’re like me and have in your head that every single second must be spent doing something productive. But what is productivity? Who says writing 5k words a day is more beneficial than watching a movie with your family? Who says spending some time refueling your creativity looking at inspiring pictures on Pinterest is worse than staring at your manuscript forcefully trying to type out just a few…more…words…and getting totally burnt out?
And that’s where we come back to balance.
No, we can’t spend our lives in front of a TV screen. I know on days where I do absolutely nothing productive I start feeling depressed. But, on the flip side, those days I spend far too much time blogging/writing/what-have-you, I’m completely drained by bed time.
So what does that mean for 2017’s plans?
I don’t want to utterly leave my life behind for writing pursuits as I did in 2015, but I also want to make more progress toward it than I did in 2016.
This year, I’m going to make the best of every moment.
This year, I’m going to respect my dream. To face my fears, to take one step at a time, and turn what has so long been seemingly untouchable into something real, tangible.
But, most importantly, this year, I’m not going to feel guilty when I need to take a breath.
Life is a beautiful gift and, yes, it is short. Which means we must enjoy every side of it.
So this year, that’s what I want to do. I know I’ll stumble, I know I’ll lose moments I can never get back. I know I’ll burn myself out some days and be a useless potato on others. But I know I’ll learn. I’m getting closer and closer to learning that balance with each day.
Every moment is precious. And I don’t want to ever take one minute of the limited ones I have on this earth for granted. Whether it’s pursuing my dream or just stopping to notice the shapes of the clouds. I want to soak it in and learn and live and breathe.
Sorry for the brain dump, guys. This post was meant to be something else, but my thoughts poured out, and, well, here we are. But I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you share this struggle of balancing work and play? What are some things you do to keep from working too hard or wasting too much time? (Seriously, I need tips!)