Finding Balance

A lot of my life for the past two years has been about finding the balance between two or more essential aspects of my life. Like balancing exploring and school, school and work, work and social life, social life and alone time, alone time and friends, friends and relationship, relationship and myself until the neverending balancing act weighs too heavily to one side. When that happens, I put a lot of effort and time into one side of the teeter-totter, and that leaves me neglecting other fundamental entities in my life that feels far away and out of reach. It sometimes feels impossible to do so, but recently I have tried to find the balance between devoting time to them all—as equally as possible.  

I think a lot about how the city I live in balances various landscapes, people, and activities. I joke that sometimes when I walk in Central Park, I can forget that I am in New York City. Where less than a mile from where I stand are miles of concrete, brick, and steel, but when you are amongst the trees and the lakes, sometimes its difficult to see the towering buildings overhead. But, eventually, in my walks, you reach a rolling field or a serene lake, and see the way the skyscrapers brush against the low hanging clouds and remember exactly where you are. That is how I can visualize balance. 

New York, or shall I say the “concrete jungle” is the strange place that has always tried to balance nature and urban life. Obviously being that Central Park is the most abundant green space on the island of Manhattan isn’t saying too much. There are 14,600 acres of land that makes up Manhattan, that’s roughly 22 miles of land. Only 840 acres of those 14,600 is Central Park. 14,000 compared to 840 seems unbalanced, so how can I sit and feel as if it is balanced? Well, even though Central Park is only 5% of the land, it feels massive compared to what actually surrounds it.

One of the largest urban parks in the world is the English Gardens in Munich, Germany. It is 900 acres and often compared to Central Park, and being that it is bigger, by 60 acres, it seems like a great feat. Except, Munich is 119 square miles, roughly 76,700 acres. That is just 1% of the acres in the city. Sure, the Gardens are more prominent, but balancing is all about how one entity is relative to another and how you devote your space to each and every one.

It hasn’t always been the easiest, and its been a lot of “touch and go,” but so far, I feel I have recently broken out of focusing on one side and found a way to reach the apex of the triangle—what I feel I am balancing on. Being that I am the triangle, I have had to learn how time can be shared amongst various tasks and how they are relative. Something I do a lot now is set 20-minute timers. Meaning, if I need to clean the living room, I set a timer for 20 minutes and clean as much as I can during that time. It leaves me wasting less time and has me working faster and harder to beat the clock.

A considerable hurdle was trying to balance my work and fun times. The twenty min timers help when I need to take a break from something that is frustrating or trying to cram a lot of little tasks into a busy day. It helps sanction off my writing, reading, and journaling into manageable tasks when I know I would want to spend all day doing that to avoid anything else I need to actually get done. The 20 min timers make sure I don’t spend all day organizing and leaves time for me to learn new skills, talk to loved ones, and still have personal time later.

Another one of my goals was to try and balance my friends and my partner. I love him dearly, and I live him, so I see him the most often out of family and friends. However, I know I need to make time to see him outside of nights on the couch before bed, just as I am making time for meaningful time with my friends and family. Recently, I have learned to see my friends on weekends or nights when he works, so I feel as if I can balance friendships and the dating world. Obviously, there are times I see my friends when he is home, and there are times we gather all of our friends together and spend time with everyone, but it’s about finding a balance between all of those relationships, so your do neglect one over the other.

But the one thing I have really overlooked while trying to balance everything else is myself. I have been standing, doing everything I can to balance my social-life, work-life, and school-life that I lost what it was I needed to make sure I have enough attention. Earlier this week, I wrote a post about self-love and care, and I feel as if I have tried to focus on that recently. When I am upset or down, I can’t find time to devote to anyone else because I am mentally not there. So, I take to spending days like Friday really focussing on me and activities I love to find a balance inside me.

How is it that you feel you find balance in your life to do everything you could possibly want to do, and spend time with everyone you want to spend time with? Do you find that it is difficult to find time for yourself during those times, or are you spending too much time on yourself that you are letting other important tasks fall out of reach?

Film from a Rainy Day on the UWS

Today, I took the morning to focus on learning new skills, and before I head on some trips, I wanted to learn more about analog photography and my camera. Last time I shot, there was clearly an issue with light leaks, the back door coming open accidentally, or a problem with the camera. The photography man suggested I take a cheap roll out and shoot it to see if its the seal that has an issue or something else. This is the product of the test, and I think they all turned out great regardless of the little imperfections that come with shooting analog. Enjoy!

 

Learning from Friendship

One morning while my stomach growled and my boyfriend slept, I stayed tucked in under the duvet and scrolled on Instagram like I do most every morning. It’s a trait I wished I didn’t have, an addiction maybe. It’s like my thumb mindlessly goes to the folder on my phone and selects the app that I numbingly scroll through for an hour, looking at the photos my friends posted while I was asleep.

Something I realized during those mornings is that my friendships span time zones. That means I’m never without a new post from someone, but also that means I don’t see my friends very often. Some of the people I consider best friends are here in NY, while others live in different states, countries, and continents. Social media makes it so there is always something to see, like, and comment on because my friends are updating their feed. But, if you look at mine, I’m barren.

I last posted in January, and before that was October, and before that was August of 2018. You would see that its cold in New York, that I love pumpkins, and I moved to the city nearly two years ago, but then again last time I posted was in January so for anyone else that follows me, but doesn’t speak to me on a regular basis, they may have no idea where I am at the moment.

I used to post weekly when I lived in London. That was the one time I was consistently updating social media with photos. I loved refreshing my page with my travels and adventures, yet here I am in August 2019 knowing that I’ve gone on three cross-country trips, traveled to 11 different states, to two different countries, and graduated from my Master’s degree. Could you even tell that from the look of my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter? No. All incredible feats and adventures, yet all I show are a few photos of my time.  

I’m okay with that, most days. I’m okay with adding the photos I have taken to my photo wall in my apartment; growing the memories for myself as opposed to showcasing it across social media. My partner took the leap in February to get rid of all his social media; deactivating and deleting everything. Sometimes it feels freeing for him, the societal pressure lifted, the popularity contest of likes is eliminated, and people stalking are gone, but sometimes he misses out on the things his family and friends share; the people he cares about the most. Sometimes I feel inclined to show him what is going on with all of them, but at the same time, I wonder if the solitude is what he needs.

However, it’s those people, the ones who tag us on social media when they post a photo of us or find a meme that reminds them of us, that has me keeping my account dormant. When I look at the photos I am tagged in on Instagram, I see the photos my friends posted with me in them. Some were from the day we took them, others flashbacks and appreciation posts. They commemorated our accomplishments, fun times, birthdays, and life-changing events. There were posed photos, candids, and selfies. There were shots taken in Naples, Florence, Boulder, London, New York, and more. There were in dorm rooms, at sorority events, concerts, sports games, and plane rides. 

Seeing all of that made me think of friendship and the connections we share with other humans. It made me think about the memories I have with others and how people impact our daily lives. It’s rare that I go a day without talking to a friend or two. My phone gives me this untethered, but a tethered connection with people all over the world. Reading these heart-warming captions about how much these people appreciate me does a lot for a person’s self-esteem. I feel lucky that people from elementary school and middle school still appreciate me as much as my most recent college and grad school friends do. It’s nice knowing you can from these core relationships at such a young age.

I am lucky my hometown friends still ask when I am coming home next or want to travel with me elsewhere. I am lucky that my college friends are inspiring and are continually encouraged me. I am lucky that I live in such a small but huge city that constantly introduces me to people of all backgrounds and interests. I meet people that matter to me and they are constantly impacting my life for the better, but I am also learning from those who help me grow as a person.

Some of my friends make me grow for all good reasons. They are my cheerleaders; the ones who encourage my dreams and are there for the nightmares. There is so much I could say to thank those who have impacted my life for the better, because I know that are the reasons why I feel connected and loved. But this post is about the “friends” that teach me about friendship and what I could do to be a better person; not just a friend, but as a daughter, girlfriend, sister, and stranger to the people I pass on the street.

I encountered a situation the other night that helped me realize that I have grown with my ideas and knowing what is good for me. Sometimes friends can let us down. Sometimes their words and their actions can belittle us into thinking we are worth less than what we are. They can blow us off, ignore our calls, and never see how their actions can hurt. I try my best to never be that friend, I try to engage with my friends anyway that I can. I like writing them letters when I can’t see them, I like FaceTiming instead of texting, and giving in ways money could never provide.

I listen to these friends, the ones who cancel on plans last minute, rant about others, and fuel the anger in their emotions, and try to learn from them. I see how they act and treat others, and I try to do my best to listen and talk kindness back into their lives. I try to encourage through my experiences and remind them that we can change what we choose to change. I think I do it because I have had people in my life who have impacted me in a positive way and left me as open to opportunities as growing points. I listen to them and hear the negative speech and wonder “why would you just give up?” 

I know I forget to text back sometimes, I know I forget birthdays and anniversaries, and I know that I have let people down in the past. I know I can act like those who speak negatively, the “friends” that I want to learn from. Sometimes when life is hard, all you want to do is rant to someone, someone who wouldn’t judge and knows what you are going through. I guess I write these posts, or journal entries, to do the same; to get out my thoughts about something, but something I have been trying to do recently is to find the positives in negative times and try to follow up negativity with something that makes me happy.

I think about the people who feel lonely and don’t want to be alone, but feel like they have no other choice but to be alone. It saddens me to think there are people who don’t feel supported or loved. It worries me that there could be someone I know, talking so negatively about someone who doesn’t deserve those words and judgment. We worry so much about our image, the one we put out in the world whether we say we do or don’t. We are aware of the implications that come with putting ourself out there and feeling the pressure of a bully saying they don’t like it.

I want more people to be cheerleaders. I want more people to donate their time to something that helps those that are struggling. I want more people to hug one another and help each other through difficult times because I don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone. If you are reading this, and feel like you could use someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me here, I will always try my best to be there for you, even if you feel like no one can be.