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I’ll just come right out and say it. I think balance is bullshit.
First, a little backstory. I came out of the womb a ramblin’ babe. Between my dad overseas in the military when I popped out, and my mom having just drove cross country for my birth, I was a natural born wanderer.
Contrary to the average American family (or so I hear), I had a pretty relaxed upbringing. My parents did their best to infuse me with positive values, but for the most part allowed me to grow and mature as a free thinking, explorative, untethered adolescent. In other words, there were far more “sure, try thats” than “thou shalt nots.”
So it makes sense, that as an almost thirty something, I maintain my sense of curiosity and exploration, while adapting my free nature to the conditions of adult life. For example, although the barefoot child in me still lives on, I’ve developed modern habits such as practicing daily rituals to add structure and routine to my day.
Here’s where society takes the concept of balance too far. Instead of leveraging our default personality traits (in some cases, extremes) to serve our lifestyle, we strive to dilute or reform them. I’ll use my relationship with running–or if we’re being honest, anything involving sweat–to paint a picture of why balance is an impractical construct.
I love to run. I love to run so much, that I’ll run five, seven and ten miles at a time. I don’t run to train for anything, but simply because it makes me feel good and acts as a trigger for other healthy habits. I’ll run like crazy for months at a time, wearing holes in my shoes, scraping up my knees and forming blisters the size of small islands. And then I’ll stop completely.
From a balance perspective, I should be more consistent. I should be like Barack Obama, or other highly successful people with fixed routines, and exercise six days a week. But I’m not Barack Obama (or, Barack Obama’s ideal), I’m characteristically human, and instead of running a little bit every day, I like to rage run like a maniac in wild spurts, completely exhaust my body and hit total burnout.
And guess what, I’m okay with maniac runner me. Instead of trying to change her into someone more “balanced,” I let her do her thing. Because I know I’ll expend far more effort trying to conform to an ideal of what I should be–and ultimately failing, than learning to be comfortable with my more radical side.
My radical self calls me to the ocean when I’m supposed to be at my desk. My radical self has naked dance parties in the living room because it’s liberating. My radical self empties a gas tank cruising through the middle of nowhere just to feel the wind in my hair. My radical self doesn’t always make the practical decision, and I thank the universe for that, because she shows me that nonconformity is revolutionary.
Here’s the thing. We spend our time striving towards an ideal version of ourselves–which is totally noble, and I’m all about growth. But the truth is, life is fluid, not constant. Everything that happens around us on a day-to-day basis is proof of that, yet we’re taught to adhere to rigid models of what we believe our lives should look like.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we assume we’re falling short when shit doesn’t actually go as planned, and we fault ourselves for not meeting our false standards. Truth bomb, y’all. We’re wildly, outrageously, remarkably human, and we’re built to stray from the midline. Extremes are a part of our makeup, so rather than trying to standardize ourselves, why not embrace the full spectrum.