Life’s a balancing act – n I’m not flexible

by Maddie
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When I was younger, I wanted more than anything to be a dancer, or a gymnast. I envied my friends who went to ballet from the age of three; who were on point by 11. One of my best friends competed in gymnastics competitions, winning medals left right and centre, whilst I was sat alone in my room writing stories. When I was 10, I begged my parents to let me start ballet lessons- my mum’s reply was that I’d be in the baby group with the other beginners, whilst my age group would be already pirouetting ahead in another class. That put me right off even begging again.

Now I’m older, I’ve realised the physical skills my peers picked up in dance and gymnastics lessons metaphorically make up the basis of our lives. Just as I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without nearly tripping over (I was an awkward child) if we don’t balance our time correctly in our everyday lives, things start to get messy. My mum indeed put me off my childhood dreams with a sharp sense of reality, so did her words strike a chord the other week when I called her from university a little (read: a lot) stressed out: ‘you do too much, love. Could you not take a break?’.

But sometimes, what people don’t understand is that taking a break just isn’t possible. I’ve just broken up for the so-called Easter holidays and I’m looking at the 7,000 words I’ve got to write, the two exams I’ve got to revise for, the two blog posts per week I’ve got to schedule, the emails I’ve got to keep up with, the part-time job I’ve got to go back to and the approx. 15 internships I’d like to apply for. That’s before we even factor in trying to make time for family members I rarely see, quality time with my boyfriend before he disappears back off to university and we begin the disgustingness that is a long-distance relationship again and catching up with as many of my friends as I possibly can.

I can’t take a break from these things. Yet I also really bloody need a break.

We live at 1000 miles an hour. And that isn’t something we’d choose to do if we had a choice. It’s that we don’t have a choice. And the way to fix this extremely speedy societal mess we seem to have found ourselves in, is to learn a rather meticulous balancing act.

Welcome to the circus of life. In this circus, we have so many things that we could be doing; so many opportunities that are for the taking. And in order to begin to learn our balancing act, we have to decide the opportunities that resonate with us; the things we want to keep juggling when the going gets tough. There’s a limit to how many balls we can juggle whilst keeping balance, my friends.

For me, I have an order to my priorities- an order I try to stick to whilst keeping balance. My family and my boyfriend are the most important things to me. I make the most time for them. Next, and I don’t think I should have this as my second priority but I live by a lil thing called YOLO, and that’s my blog and my work experience. I feel so determined to get a career in journalism after I leave university, and I know that work experience is more paramount than your degree when getting that killer job. After this, my next priority is my degree – and although I wish it wasn’t a priority, because I properly don’t enjoy it, it has to be. Then comes my pals, because I know they’ll always stick around and if we’re on the same course at the same university, my pals just get that uni stress = a non-existent social life some weeks. My last priority is my part-time job that I have during the holidays, because although money is nice, I’m not adding another ball to my juggling unless I think I can handle it.

Once your priorities are in check, you can begin balancing. And the key to staying balanced is that sometimes, priorities lower down your list might have to take precedence for a while. Priorities will change. Right now, I have four weeks of hellish assignments and revision ahead of me – and that is weighing down my mind. It needs to be done; I have no choice. And because it’s come to crunch time in my second year, where these last assignments are counting slightly more towards my degree, I need to bring university up to the top of my priority list for a while. But that shouldn’t mean I neglect all my other priorities: I just need to balance my time well in order to fit everything in.

This post you’re reading right now is being written on a day where I’m churning out as many blog posts as humanely possible, stacking up some scheduled posts for the weeks ahead. This means that my posts are pre-done; they’re ready to go out whilst I’m in the midst of revision hell and I don’t need to devote too much time to them in that moment.

Pre-writing a bulk of blog posts is something I’ve only started doing this week, ridiculously, and it’s something I’ve never done before until now. Yet the hilarious thing is that these posts I’ve written today are probably the best posts I’ve written in a long time – even though they’re being written when I’ve got a lot of stress ahead of me.

The key to balancing is time management. Just as little 10-year-old Maddie couldn’t expect to pirouette into her first ballet lesson, point shoes in hand, we can’t expect to keep up with our myriad of priorities without practising our time management. It’s a sad fact of the society we live in that we can’t ‘take a break’ or drop a few of our juggling balls, but how we choose to juggle will free up those moments to take a breather. And if we plan well, we’ll produce our best work, even under difficult time constraints.

Thank you to everyone that still reads my posts even though they’ve been a bit haphazard as of late! Jugglin’ hasn’t been my forte with uni stress clambering on top of me during my second year of university, but I’m determined to head into my third semester ridiculously organised and ridiculously proud of the content I’m putting out on my blog. And I think this post is the start of a balancing act I just might keep up!


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