Trying to find a work/life balance.... Emphasis on balance.
It’s been a long 3 months since my last post and a lot has happened since then. First, I️ just want to say thank you to everyone who’s purchased a cookbook over the last few months, your support really means a lot. Secondly, since I️ haven’t been blogging I wanted to remind folks that the best way to keep up with me is Twitter or Instagram, I️ drop gems from time to time so don’t miss out.
So here’s a very quick rundown of my life recently and a lot of the lessons I’ve learned thus far. For those of you who didn’t see my most recent blog post, in August I️ moved to California on my own to start a doctoral program in sociology. Living alone, in a new city, while starting the stressful journey of a doctoral program was a lot of abrupt change all at once. I’ve quickly realized that being alone in this phase of life is probably the most impactful part. Living in a one bedroom apartment is great if you’re like me and enjoy your own space, but the downside of living alone is the ability to isolate yourself. I️ often find myself missing the ability to invite friends over or to watch Netflix on Sunday mornings with my partner.
I️ would be lying if I️ said I️ enjoy living on my own all of the time, but it’s something I’ve learned to adjust to. I️ know I’ve said this before but I’m saying it again because it’s what has brought me peace throughout this season of change - I've had to leave a lot of my old habits and relationships behind in order to get to where I am today, everything can't come with you when you reach new heights. People talk about changing their life and chasing their dreams but often forget it's never a straight path...it's a lot of work + sacrifice, I have to be ready to do the work and be alone. I️ find peace in knowing that my sacrifices aren’t in vain.
Academia is a high stress and cutthroat environment, regardless of your program style, your first year of any doctoral program is going to invoke some form of stress. For me, it’s been extremely difficult to realize how the production of knowledge, specifically in the field of sociology goes against a lot of my personal morals. My personal views are far from the conservative and undertones of white supremacist views of the field. For the first time, I’ve realized that academic freedom does not mean creative freedom in your work. This has been difficult for me to grasp and has really made me question my end goal. As I’ve stated in a few posts throughout the summer, the first year after undergrad graduation is a lot. Postgrad life is all about coming to grips with the fact that your reality over the last four years is no longer a life you can live.
Going through such drastic change over a five-month period will force you to grow. Making the decision to have a high stress, yet rewarding career has caused me to truly change the way I️ practice self-care and define what a work-life balance is. As a student, my job is never “technically” over so that requires harsh boundary setting.
Self-care in action is much more than staying in bed till Noon. Even though guilt free resting is one of my favorite things to do I’ve made a commitment to myself to have positive self-care habits - one being meditating or working out 4x a week. To anyone looking to improve better balance in life my first suggestion would be to be patient and kind to yourself. Creating the ideal work-life balance does not happen overnight.
Setting boundaries is the most important step to finding a work-life balance - In order to set boundaries, I️ ask myself what do I want to accomplish in both my professional and personal life. This sort of soul searching in so important when trying to create boundaries for yourself. If you don't know what you want it's almost impossible to obtain any sort of life balance.
Setting a guilt-free list - In the beginning, I️ often felt guilty for taking a break when I️ know I️ had a lot of other obligations and tasks to check off my to-do list. In order to remedy the issue every day I set 3 tasks on my to-do list, on top of attending seminars or meetings. It is important to set 3 obtainable goals during the start of your day (ie write 300 worlds, read 2 assigned readings for XYZ class, tidy my bathroom) once these goals are completed I️ know that I’m making progress towards a much larger end goal (ie 5,000-word final). Setting up my guilt-free list helps me feel like I’m being productive while holding myself accountable to reaching larger end goals. I've realized that I️ can’t work at 100% when it comes to school because then I’d be leaving nothing for me.
Self-care is something you work at, do the work - Lately, I’ve had to reevaluate the way I️ looked at self-care. I️ realize that without action and effort to change, my self-care routine was pretty counterproductive. I’ve realized that If you want to heal you've got to do the work. You can’t look to other people for answers or quick fixes about your personal healing. Healing is work. You can't heal yourself from years of emotional issues and negative self-talk via a curated Instagram page. You have to do real work and for me, that looks like holding myself accountable to keeping the commitments I️ make to myself. I️ work out at least 4 times I️ week, I️ try to speak kindly to myself, I️ rest when I️ need too and I️ write letters to myself quite often. It’s so important to find a self-care routine that adds to your life when trying to find balance in mental, spiritual, physical and emotional facets of life.
This post was a lot longer than usual but I️ wanted to be transparent about the last couple months of really impactful change. I️ get a lot of questions via Instagram or Twitter about how I️ manage multiple sides of myself and honestly there isn’t a one size fits all answer. I’m learning as I️ go. I️ hope this was helpful to you or if you know of anyone trying to juggle grad school, creative ventures and personal life be sure to share this post with them.