The other day an article caught my eye that talked about why people lose friends in their twenties. It talked about transitions that occur and priorities that change. I found myself relating to the article in some ways and opposing it in others. If my life is shifting, surely others’ are as well, and it seemed like a lack of understanding was at play in regards to the most common losses. Friends who suddenly enter relationships and stop talking to friends = not a good friend. Not a good friend because she has not yet learned the subtle art of balance. I think the twenties are the perfect opportunity to cultivate this little used practice, because as responsibilities mount, the juggling act of everyday life is only going to get more difficult, and one of the best antidotes to stress is good social support.
Friendships are not the only facet of life in which balance is difficult. As the global market shifts, there is a higher priority on work, and deciding on a career path. The decisions that are made regarding where to invest time career-wise are increasingly difficult, and often made at the sacrifice to personal time and family time. I have never heard a person openly admit that his or her career is a priority over relationships, but actions speak louder than words, and the choice is made with extra hours, taking home projects, and carrying the weight of stress through the front door. There is little room left for connection in those moments, and what is allowed for can be forced sure to time constraints and hidden resentments.
I see the anguish in making the decision to find balance. Whether you are a woman being encouraged to “lean in” or a man trying to make it one step further, the choice to prioritize life-work balance can often come at a cost to career longevity or mastery. There can be a lot of fear associated with the strive towards both, but the outside message is always very clearly telling us that career, prosperity, and wealth should be at the top. Judgment is associated with different decisions, and attacks are made towards so-called “lazy” stay at home parents who aren’t “working.” Men who make this decision are praised and emasculated all at once. Somewhere along the way deciding to have enough but not too much became threatening, and the expectation became to all at once have a six-figure salary. No more time to work to the top, but to instantly be at the top, with enough money to vacation in Monaco, but hardly the time to do so.
In many ways, the presentation of options has created more stress in that we can easily make the wrong choice. Rather than choose one or the other, we are attempting to choose everything, and there is often sacrifice to full commitment. I am sure you’ve heard it said that you can’t give 100% to everything, something will suffer, and I agree with that statement. When you are making decisions, ask yourself what you would like to have suffer, and I encourage you to attempt more balance and to recognize the power of being able to say no.