This piece was originally published on October 8, 2016 at door44jewelry.com. You can find more of my most recent blog posts, as well as all of the jewelry I currently have for sale there, so please stop by. Also, follow Door 44 Jewelry on Facebook for exclusive holiday deals!
A couple of decades ago, back when I was still young and idealistic, I naively believed that hard work was all it took to get ahead in life. So, I worked. Hard. Pretty much non-stop, as a matter of fact. By the ripe old age of twenty-six, I was a card-carrying member of workaholics anonymous.
I’m joking, of course. I don’t even know if there is a such thing as workaholics anonymous. If there is, I’m not making fun of the organization or its members, so please don’t send me hate mail! I’m just trying to make the point that work was my sole focus at that juncture, and it was so at the expense of all other aspects of my life. Personally, spiritually, and physically, I suffered from a rather extreme and persistent case of imbalance.
That imbalance took a heavy toll for ten long years before I finally reached my breaking point. All it took was for one particularly clueless supervisor to hit a very sensitive nerve in the midst of a difficult and tedious project, and I snapped. I had quite a flair for drama back then, so I didn’t just burn that bridge. I blew it up.
Career suicide is the technical term, I believe, but for me it proved to be the most liberating day of my life to date. I might have killed what I know now was always a dead-end career anyway (hindsight being 20/20 and all), but with that same strike of the match that lit the dynamite that destroyed the career I’d spent ten years building, I also revived a long lost connection to a person I’d neglected for a very long time: Me.
I hardly recognized my own reflection in the mirror the next morning. I looked and felt ten years younger. And as I marveled at the reflection of the young woman looking back at me, I felt something else for the first time in many years. Hope.
The main take away from that experience is that I know now that I can’t let my life get so wildly out of balance before I take time to refocus and rebalance. And that’s the thing about balance, right? It’s elusive. You find it and then you lose it, and then you find it again. Sometimes you hit a sweet spot and it’s like the heavens open up. You can almost hear the angels’ singing while you bask in the magical sensation of perfect balance. And then, poof! It’s gone. Again.
I launched Door 44 Jewelry just over eight months ago, and as new ventures are wont to do, it’s thrown my life out of balance. Not in a bad way, necessarily, and certainly not to the degree that I’ve experienced in the past. It’s been enough of an imbalance, though, that I’ve had to remind myself to take a breath and refocus.
While examining my transition from jewelry hobbyist to full-time working artist this week, one important area of imbalance that I’ve discovered is that I’m too isolated creatively. I have many friends who are artists and fellow creative minds, but none of them live within a 60-mile radius of my current residence. Although I know the city in which I currently live is brimming with artists, I’ve yet to make a meaningful connection with any of them.
That’s my fault, of course. I consciously made the decision to get my online shop up and running smoothly before tacking on the extra challenges and complications that come with selling locally at craft fairs and seasonal artisan markets. To further complicate matters, I also have family time and my daughter’s extracurricular activities competing with my personal need to expand my own creative social circle.
Something has to give. Competing priorities must be reprioritized, and I need to make time and space in my life for some local artist friends—maybe even a mentor. I’ve had to remind myself this week that balance is active. People tend to believe it’s passive, so they mistakenly think the key to finding balance is to remain still. The truth, though, is that stillness is the surest way to lose your balance.
I realized recently that I’m guilty of this myself. For months I’ve been telling myself to be patient and to wait for the right time or the right person to come along, but the reality is that the time is now and the person I’m ultimately looking to connect with is me.
As counterintuitive as it might seem, the key to finding your balance before the wobble becomes unrecoverable (as was the case with my former career before I wiped that slate clean) is to keep moving—maybe even a little faster than you feel comfortable going. Lean into it and trust that you’ll find that elusive balance once again. You know you will. After all, you’ve been doing it since you first learned to walk.
Life is short, and it’s easily thrown off balance. All you can do is keep moving forward. Make space for the things you need in order to rebalance (some local creative friends, in my case), and pursue what you love with the knowledge that you’ll always catch your balance, sooner or later. And then enjoy that balance for as long as it lasts before you lose it again, because you will lose it again. That’s just the way of it.
Balance isn’t a destination. It’s a process.