There is a myth out there that we can have it all.
Work life, home life, social life. We can do it all. Because that’s what everyone says and it’s what so many of us strive for. When we realize that’s not possible, we start to think something is wrong with us. But is it? I’m starting to realize that it’s true, we can have it all, but like Oprah said, we can’t have it all at one time. We have to learn to prioritize the things that are most important to us. We have to look at what we really want out of life and make those things happen.
I am a sailor, a wife, a student, a writer, a softball coach, a sister, a friend, a daughter, a Christian. And lately I’m also a big mess.
In any given week I’m standing watch, doing homework, coaching games, attending church, running errands, catching up with friends, sneaking kisses with my husband and just trying to find time to breathe. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I can’t be the only one trying to find balance without knowing where to start can I?
One way to attempt to find that balance is figuring out my priorities. Keeping my priorities straight is something I struggle with. I am a people pleaser. I want to volunteer at church every time someone asks for a body to jump in. That’s how I found myself saying, “Hey, call me if you need a softball coach.” What the heck do I know about coaching!? I was a band geek growing up and I’ve been playing co-ed, church league, slow pitch softball for the past 6 years. I’m hardly a pro. Heck, I’m really excited when I manage not only to make contact with the ball but also get myself to first base without being tagged out. But sure, I would make a GREAT softball coach.
Because I just couldn’t say no.
I realized recently that I’m starting to prioritize the wrong things. I was sitting in service and our pastor made a point to discuss how married folks should be aiming to keep their marriage a priority. Both partners need to be willing to put the good of the couple ahead of the good of the individual. It hit me hard. Not because I feel like my husband is slacking off, but because I feel like I am. I tell him that I need time alone so I can do homework. I tell him I need time alone because I need to write.
I rush out the door in the morning with just a quick kiss and then spend the day texting him with minor errands and mundane tasks that I need him to do. Instead of spending quality time with him I’m putting other things ahead of him and it was a wake up call for me. It was time for me to start saying yes to him, to our marriage, and no to things that just don’t matter as much.
While I’m much better at it now, when I was in my early 20’s I hardly thought about saying no to things that would affect my financial life. I would go out to dinner with friends and just swipe a card because I needed to keep up appearances with them. I would buy clothes that made co-workers assume I was doing just fine. I had a car that certainly didn’t fit in the budget because I couldn’t possibly be seen in a beater car on campus.
What to know what I learned from that? It’s far more important to have financial stability than to look cool. I spent years trying to fix the mistakes I made in balancing my finances. I’ve learned that balancing my checkbook is way cooler than trying to balance my debt . I’ve learned to say no to going out to dinner and instead meal prep with my husband because that allows us to set and achieve our financial goals. We have a major overseas trip in the works, we want to buy a home in the next five years, and we were just able to purchase a brand new car for the first time ever because we made our finances and paying off debt a priority.
Sure, we miss out on being able to go to some events with friends or family but we both know it’s worth it in the long run.
Looking at life I can’t help but think maybe it isn’t balance that we’re looking for. Maybe we’re all trying to keep our head above water. My friend MJ Boice may have put it best when she said, “As far as life balance, I’m not sure there is such a thing. Military life isn’t balanced. Life in general is messy. It’s not how it’s balanced so much, it’s kinda just like riding the waves. I mean, we won’t really be able to control the water, but we can always learn how to surf.” Sure, we can let the waves crash over us and take us down or maybe, just maybe, we can learn to surf the waves and enjoy the ride.