My life has been out of balance for as long as I can clearly remember. And I know, the most successful women embrace that imbalance but my feeling is that mine has been too far out of balance, or perhaps just too imbalanced in the wrong way.
Last semester, I was in so much pain from dislocating my kneecap a lot of activities were off the table. I worked a lot. My TA frankly sucked. I achieved some things that made me really happy, but the pressure that I felt because what I was working on was always defined took it out of me. I had too much structure, and not enough freedom and creativity.
This semester, I’m trying to re-equilibriate. That means working hard, but carving out time to be inspired and un-pressured. I bunked off today, and as a result finished something that I’ve been working on for weeks. The time I needed was there in my schedule, but what wasn’t was the freedom I need to be inspired.
Teaching skiing on Sundays is so far amazing for my balance. I spend the day without my phone (or computer!), outside, doing something physical. And I return too exhausted to do anything other than watch movies and go to bed. Then, I sleep for 12 hours. I’m not sure how much I enjoy being a ski instructor, but I do enjoy skiing, and the feeling of achievement when after an hour I see an improvement in a student’s skiing. I think, though, what I really enjoy is not being a grad student. It’s like a break from my life.
I want a life that I’m sufficiently happy with that I don’t need to take breaks from it. But I don’t think I will have that whilst I’m at graduate school.
With WISE, lately, I’ve been delegating as much as I can. There have been some teething problems, but what I notice is that I’m doing more but it’s easier – I’ve tipped the balance from a list of obligations to inspirations. I need to do that more in my life, generally. So tonight, even though I know what I should do is go ski training, what I’m going to do is go to Body Pump followed by Body Balance. Because, honestly, I know what I need to do to improve my skiing. It’s 1) buy new ski boots and 2) go and work on being able to ski on one leg (dislocating my kneecap didn’t just imbalance my life) and do consistent short radius turns down a black run until my thighs burn. And what I need to do to improve my feeling of imbalance is to make a shift from “what I should do” to “what I want to do”.
There are three ways to do this, I think. One is to rejig things, which is what I’ve done with WISE and my schedule by bunking off.
Option two is to ignite my passion again, so something goes from “should” to “want to”. Going back to kickboxing in January, it was a bit of a should. But I’ve upped my fitness to the point where I can go to the non-beginner classes and it’s starting to become a “want to”, instead. For school, on Saturday I was working but came across something that was really inspiring and as a result was able to clarify some things I’d been thinking, then I had a brief chat with my co-supervisor which was so helpful after the other day (he seems to have read what I’ve worked on, and see things more in line with how I’m seeing them).
Third, and finally, I think leverage is important. Leverage is buying new ski boots (my current ones are so beat up they don’t fit right anymore and keep coming undone when I ski hard). Leverage was getting a trainer when I started going back to the gym because it was helpful for using my time there best, and motivation. Leverage has been getting someone else to write my CV – I’ve found that the amount of time I’ve put in has been about the same as it would take me to write a (mediocre) resume, but hopefully as a result I’ll get a much better one. I also feel more prepared for interviews. Leverage, is delegating stuff to other people for WISE, we had a big event on Saturday, and are introducing monthly “workshops” – so we’re achieving more as a group now I’m not a bottleneck. It can scary to give up control, but it can also be empowering.
I guess for everything that gives me this feeling of “don’t want to”, I need to consider whether I can rejig, ignite, or leverage to make the situation better. Because ultimately, I don’t want to rediscover balance, I want an imbalance – I just want a better one.