I wrote not too long ago that when I’m rocking it at work, dirty dishes runneth over in my sink. When my car is a mechanical disaster, my social life is one that rivals any woman on the red carpet. When my diet is healthy and robust, my dry cleaning sits on Denny Way for weeks.
I haven’t quite figured out how to have it all…yet.
I had a busy couple of days a few weeks back. Stella suffered a UTI and was on antibiotics for seven days. Like her momma, Stella is quite
demanding needy whiny pitiful when sick…meowing non-stop and somehow finding an opening to snuggle her way next to me in the bed in the middle of the night. How can I be worried about cat fur all over my new white duvet when she’s crying for her mommy and purring nonstop next to me at 2AM?
While nursing a sick cat, I successfully helped execute my largest event at work (to date) and had a great time doing it. Filling in for a co-worker, I happily stepped up and learned a lot in the process. The event turned out well, thanks to a lot of help from my team, and I was proud watching all of our hard-work and planning come together for a great quarterly meeting with my company.
Since then my schedule has been quite full. I’ve had a busier than normal social life and am trying to manage a continuing education class I’m taking at the University of Washington on project management. In November, I took salsa classes with someone and for the last part of the month I left Seattle to go back home to Georgia for over a week.
I’m happy with most everything in my life, do not get me wrong, but I am frustrated that I’m not able to do everything I want to do. The frustration has me wondering a lot lately about having it all. Is it even possible for a person to “have it all?” A successful job, good friendships, time to work out, a substantial savings account, enough cute clothes, a manageable Google Reader queue, time to read books, time to pack a lunch, time to talk to East Coast friends, time to write a blog post, time to take your car to the mechanic, time to take your cat to the veternary ER, time to complete a DIY project…on and on and on.
Over the last year I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would choose to spend my post-graduate free time. I know, I’ve been out of grad school for a while now but after three years of living my life working off a flexible schedule with large chunks of shifting free time, it has been a bit harder than I originally imagined working out the rhythm of a 9 to 5 schedule again There is only a handful of time left in each day to divide among the countless acitivites that I would love to participate in: cooking homemade dinners, working out, writing blog posts, reading books, dating a boy, watching shows and participating in ballet class, salsa lessons, happy hours and book clubs.
I absolutely can’t do it all. And I wonder, should I even be able to?
My first realization of this epiphany occurred when I admitted to myself that my graduate school relationships could no longer maintain the same level of consistency and intensity that they previously held during my three years in school. Study sessions, reading groups, research projects, clinical practicums and downtime between classes provided a breeding ground for cultivating friendships, yet as soon as we all graduated, those friendships scattered across the city and throughout the country. It became clear, very quickly, that if I wanted to stay in touch with people, I would have to be intentional with contacting them…and picky with those I chose to spend time with. Somewhere between conference calls and commutes, happy hours and work outs, Facebook and dinner parties, I had to make time for friendships that were formerly built into my schedule. I feel haughty saying this but I believe it to be true. At some point, we have to pick who we want to be friends with at the end of the day. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to go around a classroom…a boardroom…a dodgeball team and while there are many lovely people in the world, we must choose the ones who we want to be closest to us.
Who do we want to share our lives with when the day comes to a close? Who do we want to celebrate our greatest moments with when we sit down at our birthday table? And who do we want to go through the trenches in life with when things become too difficult to bear? I can’t have, do or be it all. At the end of the day I have to choose and I have to decide what is most important to me.
It is important the I find meaning in the work I do and that I enjoy doing it. It is important that I am surrounded by people who love and care for me and that whether or not they understand or agree with what I’m doing, they support me just because they accept me unconditionally. And it is important that I cultivate creativity and spirituality throughout my life. Those things I know to be true.
My therapist once said something to me that I will never forgot. Well, to be fair, she’s said many things to me that I will always remember and be grateful for hearing. But I received one of those golden nuggets that comes long in counseling every once in a while and stays with you years after the session has ended. She told me that when I say no to one thing, I’m really making room to say yes to something else. Simple truth, and probably not that hard to think through, but by showing me that my life can be a series of choices, she changed the way I engage my decision making process.
When I say no to one friendship, I am really making time to develop another one. When I turn down one book to read, I give myself space for the one that’s been waiting on my bookshelf for months. And when I say no to one dinner out with a friend, I’m really saying yes to a few more dollars towards achieving my financial goal of being debt free. It’s the ebb and flow of decision making that helped me realize that I have choices admist trying to have it all.
So back to my question, can you really have it all? Yes, and no. My favorite financial blogger says that we can have it all, just not all at once. I can have it all, but I am limited to what I say yes and no to with each choice. Yes, I will take a continuing education class. No, I will not have extra free time on most Sunday afternoons for 9 months. Yes, I will write for my blog. No, I will not cook a homemade dinner tonight. Yes, I will stay out late with someone I care about, no I will not get up early to work out. It’s a give and take, a push and pull that we must navigate for the rest of our lives.
In the midst of being overwhelmed with not being able to do everything I want to do, I am learning that I have choices. And for whatever reason knowing I have choices helps me let go of the things I decide to not engage in. As we approach the busiest time of the year, the holidays, I hope you find happiness and choices as you decide when and where you will spend your time, money and energy.
Have a great day. See you in December.