The word “balance” can be defined as “a mental steadiness or emotional stability, a habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.” To me, finding balance has always seemed like an end goal, a final condition, or an ethereal state of being attainable only to yogis that meditate on a daily basis. But I’ve recently realized that balancing is also a verb. It’s a constant action and battle that I fight every day in an effort to balance my career, personal life, and relationships.
I am 27 years old and I have danced my entire life. I started studying ballet when I was three years old and I never stopped. Throughout my training, I have fought for balance in the studio, in rehearsals, and on the stage. I have pushed my muscles to the limit while trying to defy gravity, look effortless, and portray different characters. From high school to college I managed to fit in countless hours of rehearsals amongst other clubs, activities and schoolwork. I thought I had this “balance” thing down for a while. After all, who needs sleep? I carried this mentality with me as I began my career. I took on multiple jobs: performing, teaching, and anything else I could fit into an already hectic schedule. I packed everything in until I had zero time for my friends, my relationship, or myself. I was exhausted all of the time, I developed unhealthy eating habits, and the things I used to love became chores. I have a passion for dance and yet I began to resent my time in the studio. I became angry and impatient with anyone that wanted a bit of my time. That battle for balance I mentioned earlier? I was losing it.
In the midst of being overwhelmed, I started to take a step back. I looked at my life and decided I wasn’t happy with how I was living. I thought writing everything in my planner would create this elusive sense of “balance.” But balancing doesn’t just happen. It takes a daily effort of give and take. I’ve found that it’s easier to be a caring, poised professional when more effort is put into my own well-being. If I can remember the following things, I seem to do much better in my battle for balance.
Step back and take a breath.
You would be surprised how much better you may feel after a few deep, deliberate breaths. When feeling totally powerless, sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back for a minute. It’s amazing how little I focus on my breathing when I’m stressed. There have been times that I forget to breathe while dancing. I’ve come offstage and realized that I was holding my breath during the performance. But I’ve come to realize that life, too, is easier if you remember to breath.
It’s okay to say NO.
As much as you may want to please everyone, it’s impossible. Let go of things that don’t directly affect you and leave time for yourself. I’ve found that if I set aside some time for myself I’m much more productive and giving with the time I have for others. Less is more sometimes.
Find something you like to do (not something you have to do).
Even if you LOVE your job, it’s still your job. You still have requirements, deadlines, and constraints. Find something that you like to do outside of work. My job once required that I take dance classes and attend rehearsals. As much as I love dance, taking a class or exercising outside of work was sometimes more rewarding because I didn’t HAVE to do it. If you don’t make time for yourself, you cannot expect yourself to make time for others.
I think it’s important to remember that all of us are struggling with this balancing act at some point or another. Respect for others has to start with respect for yourself.
Headshot: Thaiger Adanoldo
Dance Photo: Mark Horning