how to juggle it all without losing yourself
If I had to describe adulthood, womanhood and motherhood all in one word, that word would be overwhelming. The older I get, the faster time seems to go, and the slower I seem to process everything that happens. I want to live a full, active life and I want to take my time living it. So I set out to prove to myself that this is possible.
Almost four years ago, I quit my corporate job to pursue writing full-time, to be at home with my three kids, and to build a life that felt more in line with who I really am. I thought that working from home would relieve much of the pressure I felt when I was working 45 – 50 hours a week and commuting for two hours each day. But it wasn’t that simple. To my surprise, once I became self-employed, I felt even more overwhelmed.
Between family, friends, work, community and self-care alone, I still felt like there was never enough time. I saw lack everywhere. The house should be cleaner. The kids should spend less time on their devices. I should be making more money and saving more. Spending more time with my friends. Reading more. Visiting family more. Volunteering more. Doubts and feelings of lack can pile up this way, making us feel anxious during the day and restless at night, overlooking all there is to be grateful for in between.
While I was happier with my work than I had ever been, and I was deeply thankful to spend more time with my kids, I felt a familiar loss of hope settling in because I continued to struggle to fulfill all my roles. In my head I was criticizing myself for not getting things done faster, for not pleasing and impressing everyone; basically, for not being superwoman.
Why do so many of us have this superwoman mentality anyway?
I believe it’s because we attach our worth to how much we get done. We watched our mothers do it and we watched our mother’s mothers do it. We see our friends and sisters doing it. We let accomplishment become our validation. It’s hard to be patient through uncertain times so we try to control and fix everything. We don’t want to be judged so we try to keep up with everyone else and sometimes we do things from our hearts and other times we are just people-pleasing. We can easily lose ourselves this way, forgetting how important our reasons are for what we do. Forgetting how rewarding and fundamental it is to just be.
A few challenges we face:
Watching other women who appear to be doing it all — and making it look easy! — is hard when you are struggling. We create stories in our minds about how they have something that we don’t.
Trying to figure out your own flow and what works for you is a vulnerable time. You are going to make mistakes and you are going to be humbled, but you have to see it through. Struggle doesn’t necessarily mean you are on the wrong path, it can simply mean that you are paving a new one.
There are expectations and obligations in your mind that are only there because you don’t realize you can remove them. Until you do, they will sit there stubbornly taking up space.
A few ideas that help:
If you are overwhelmed with your life, you have the power to simplify it. Examine everything you do for its meaning to you and its necessity. Don’t make excuses that enable old habits.
Practice being honest with your words as well as your actions about the way you want to live your life. Catch yourself when you are pretending to be something you are not or chasing a standard that’s not yours.
Define your own ambition. Make sure your goals and intentions are authentically you.
Truthfully, I still struggle with taking on too much. It’s a hard habit to break. When all else fails, be thankful for what you have, use it wisely and remember, a juggling act is a performance. Your life is not.
This piece originally appeared on COCOTIQUE.