Last week I was chatting with a colleague. We both work in the arts, though she is a generation younger than I am. She was explaining her devotion to her work/life balance, which includes a strict cap on the number of hours she works, and no email nights or weekends. A part of me wanted to laugh out loud. How was that even possible?
Another colleague and I were chatting about the same subject. This woman is a tad bit older than I. Her theory was that you can only handle two big things in your life. For her, her work is one of them.
As a frame of reference let me tell you that I am having a EAT/PRAY/LOVE aka mid life moment right now. Trying to figure out the work/life balance questions for myself. Also trying to reboot my writing life, get back to the gym, lose those unwanted pounds and leave some room for a social life of sorts. I know, madness.
Given all of this, and my past work/life issues, I am not accepting the two things rule. I just can’t. It would mean I only had room for one more thing (I have a job that definitely counts as one) and since I am a writer, that would mean the rest of it would be on another tier. Or that writing would move down, but that seems like an easy choice (given the current writer’s block I am experiencing) and one that would make me very unhappy in the long run.
But keeping a cap on my work life? Why does that feel subversive to me? Obviously I need to do some work on that, if nothing else. Do I feel as though I am being a traitor to my career? Am I trying to prove something? To whom? Is this a greater challenge for women? Or for women of my generation (or older)? Does the younger generation (how I hate that phrase) have a different POV on these balance issues?
I think there are fewer answers to work/life balance then there are opportunities for conversation. Hopefully my conscious considerations will yield some ideas. Or inspiration. If so, I’ll let you know.