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Work/life balance

I’ve been struggling more lately to keep up some semblance of balance with trying to work full-time, do what I love doing, and have time with my family and friends and just in-general downtime. There’s so many shows I want to see and friends I want to support in aforementioned shows, but all too often I find myself feeling so tired or overwhelmed that I can’t do it. Then I feel overwhelmed AND guilty.

The Gan-e-meed discussion I went to last week on the work-life balance was really helpful. They talked a lot about the need for self-compassion, which is something I know full well that I struggle with. I hold myself up to much higher standards than I’d ever hold anyone else. It’s like, I need to be seeing classic shows that I never saw or even read growing up, I need to see new “big” shows so I know what’s out there in contemporary theatre, I need to see shows my friends are involved in, and I need to keep up with my own writing so that there can be shows that I myself am involved in. 😛 I should also say that “need” here encompasses “want” too… I don’t feel obligated to do any of these things–they’re all things I want to do, but I feel guilty when I can’t get everything done.

The panel also talked about how it’s ok to say “no” to some things and to keep that time for yourself. I struggle with this a lot. I felt myself in my head saying to the panelists, “yeah it’s ok for YOU to say no, because you’ve already established yourself.” I feel like someone like me needs to go out there and see everything I can so I don’t end up with the reputation of being totally noncommitted. But I think instead of driving myself crazy I should just be a lot more realistic about what I can handle and have that be ok. I need to realize that it’s ok to take a step back and say “I am going to go insane if I am running around all the time.” And I’ll also never get my own work done if I never have free time.

I also really related to Jennie, the actress on the panel, talking about the necessity of being away from her family at night when she rehearses or directs. In that sense, it is a lot like writing while holding down a regular 9-5 job–all of my writing time is on nights and weekends, which leaves less time with Allan and with friends. It makes it harder. When I was on the Freedom Art retreat and could spend all day working on theatre projects, I kept wishing that my normal work week could always be like that. Of course, the world doesn’t work that way. It’s never going to make me stop doing what I love doing, but it just means that I need to be better at time management and be ok with taking time away from my family/friends time when I need to write.

I have a really great support system… my job allows me to work from home, Allan is great about doing things on his own so that I can write, friends are super-understanding and supportive, and I actually know people in the local theatre world who are dealing with the same balancing stuggles as I am. So I feel really bad even whining about any of this at all. I know it’s all going to be fine. I just need to relax a little not be as crazy about putting so much pressure on myself. I’ve always been like that though, so it’s hard to follow your own advice sometimes. I think I’m always paranoid that if I DON’T put insane amounts of pressure on myself, I’ll devolve into laziness and just give up because it’s easier that way. Which is stupid. I’ve never done that. I’m a huge procrastinator, yes, but I’ve never just stopped doing something I really love doing because it’s too frustrating or too hard. Why do I have such a problem listening to this rational side of myself?

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