To Do or Not to Do? That is the Question… of Balance.
May 1, 2013
To kick off
our monthly topic of maintaining balance in your life as a writer, I thought it
would be good to share a personal story with you all about my struggle to find
balance in a busy life. Sometimes when people think about maintaining balance,
they think “well I do this and then I do this other totally unrelated thing so
to not become overwhelmed by either.” This is a perfectly legitimate way to look
at balance, and in fact it is the premise on which my post-secondary education up
to this point has been based.
I completed a Bachelor
of Science in both Biomedical Science and Music at the University of Guelph,
and then went on to complete a Master of Science in fields pertaining to
Anatomy and Physiology, while also doing research on how these fields pertain
to music and vocal production. All through my undergrad and graduate studies, I
participated in choirs, solo concerts, and independent research into areas that
interested me (when I could fit it in of course). People always thought I was
crazy, but I just saw it as balancing my passion for science with my passion
for music and the human voice.
The thing was
that I had become accustomed to a life of high stress. When I had a couple days
off between my last exam of a semester and the start of the next, I instantly
felt bored and tried to fill that time up with as much as I could. I thought
about the work I had to do as I slept (when I did). But inevitably, this kind
of lifestyle leads to a burn-out period where your body just says “Enough
So from this
seemingly unrelated personal rant comes a valuable lesson I learned from my 5
years and 2 degrees: True balance with work is between “doing” and “not doing”.
I thought I had a
healthy balance with to opposing fields to study, but really it was all
studying… it was ALL “doing”. The
only time I truly started to succeed at the “doing”
part of my life, was when I forced myself to appreciate “not doing” anything at all. Watching TV, going window shopping,
going for long walks, hanging with friends, playing sports, working out, etc,
etc, etc. I saw my skills pertaining to my field of interest increase
drastically, all from doing less work?
We often allow
ourselves to be caught up in the excitement of what we love, and forget that
our bodies and minds are machines that work together to keep us going. But you
don’t leave a machine on 24/7, so you can’t be overusing your mind and body
either. You can’t allow yourself to get so caught up in your writing that you
work for 12 hour days (which I know I and many of my friends who are
writers have done or exceeded). The truth is, we’re only human, and sometimes
that “not doing” time is exactly what
we need to make the most of what we love to be “doing”.