On Cutting Back and Seeking Balance

The 9 to 5 Wanderer has been pretty quiet lately, and my long list of blog posts and plans for the blog have remained untouched for some weeks now. I have to admit that lately I have been feeling quite burnt out. The cold winter weather and short dark days, simultaneous malaise and stress at work, and navigating some difficult personal relationships have lately got the best of me. I’m also taking French again this semester, and have been struggling with an online class which meets twice a week, whose format I don’t really like, and an in-person study group, which my old professor has generously put together, but which has more or less turned into a second full blown class. In the meantime, two of my roommates got new jobs in new cities, so we’ve got two old friends leaving, and two brand new ones coming in, and if only the process getting from A to B was as simple as it sounds when pen is put to paper. I submitted some research I’ve been working on to two international conferences, was miraculously accepted to both, and now am trying to figure out how on earth I can afford to travel to both (one in Philadelphia with an exorbitant conference fee, and one with a lower fee…in Brussels), and when I am going to find the time to write the papers. On top of that, I’ve been talking with some former colleagues about starting a small non-profit project on the side of my current job. I’ve been wondering if my current job is where I want to be at the moment. I’ve been trying to lose those pesky leftover holiday pounds. To stop biting my nails. All in all, I’ve been feeling rather overwhelmed.

As you’ve probably noticed, I often have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, to push myself right to the edge because I can, so why not try? I want to run a successful blog, own an Etsy empire, speak four languages fluently, be an academic, travel the globe, write a book, change the world, all at once. It’s far too much to take on, but I’m not good at recognizing when I’ve pushed myself to the limits and need to step back from the cliff.  I have many diverse interests, and that’s great. But lately, I’ve realized that I let it reach the point where I’m compromising my happiness for the sake of achievement.

This blog usually serves as a lovely escape for me, something creative and outside of my usual day-to-day. I’ve noticed in recent weeks though, that I have neither the energy, desire, nor time to write, or to nurture this site that I’ve put so much effort and heart into so far. To be fair, it does take a long time to write these posts. The ones, like this, which are simply my thoughts put to paper take at least an hour or two, while the ones that involve my travel photos, captions, and sometimes a little research to fill in the gaps in my memory about a place, take even longer. It is a labor of love, so I do not complain, but merely explain why it hasn’t been happening much for me, or for you, as of late.

Such is life, and there will always be a thousand projects and activities to take on, each more exciting than the next. I’ve realized that I need to get better at managing them. “Quitting” goes against every fiber of my being, but I’m learning to get better at it, in baby steps. The first rather large step I’ve taken this week, is quitting my online French class. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t trick myself into liking the online format, I’m getting my French practice through the other group, and there is absolutely no reason I need to be killing myself and making learning a language unenjoyable at this stage in my life. Dropping French has taken a big load off my weekly commitments, but, of course, I still have a long way to go before I strike that right balance. I’m sure that in a couple months I’ll be feeling overextended and short of free time yet again, but at least today, I celebrate a small victory.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I am SO guilty of taking on too much (great plan, I will run a blog and work on that startup with you and do 15 hours a week of freelance work and also tutor this small child and try to write a book and more and more and more all on top of my full time job) and then some of it always slides. Hence not writing on my blog for a month or more while I’m trying to manage everything else.

    I’ve come to be a HUGE proponent of quitting. I used to feel ashamed about quitting things, but as long as you’re not leaving someone else in the lurch, I see it as a great choice to make when something just isn’t adding anything positive to your life. So yay for quitting French! On a related note, have you tried Duolingo? I’m using it to learn Italian (because yes, I needed more projects) and rather enjoying the format.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, cheers to being quitters! It still feels weird to me, but I’m working on it. I have tried Duolingo (although, I haven’t been on it in months and it’s slid onto the backburner while I’ve been busy, shocker). I love that minus the speaking exercises, you can squeeze in some language time while you’re on the subway or waiting to meet a friend or whatever. Good luck with the Italian!! I’d like to learn it some day too. Another thing I find really helpful are audio apps that do the news in French, I bet there are some similar ones in Italian. In French, I really like the app for Radio France Internationale. I’ve graduated to regular speed, but there are also some great “the news in slow [insert language here]” type apps that are really great if you’re just starting out!

    Like

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