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Striking the Balance

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Being back at work full-time, as well as studying full-time, all while trying to survive a pandemic has all been a little much. Life has been getting heavier and heavier, but like I’ve always said – and will continue to say – nothing is too unbearable when we decide we want to survive it. But I know sometimes it feels like we won’t make it no matter how hard we’re trying to hold on, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel as though the world is coming crashing down. Or as though the weight of it lies on your shoulders. Heck, it’s even okay to feel like this world wasn’t really designed for someone like you. All of the things that you feel, and the thoughts that you have, they’re all okay. You’re okay. You’re here, you’re reading this, and you’re okay.

This is something I’ve been working on massively: being okay. Despite the circumstances I find myself in or the people I find myself losing, I am learning to be okay with it. Because that’s the truth, isn’t it? Everything just is what it is and worrying more than need be makes you experience the same thing over and over again – or if I may be so bold, makes you die a million small deaths inside.

I made the decision a while ago to stop experiencing these small deaths because honestly, it takes up a lot of energy to dig yourself back out of the hole you bury yourself in. One of the things that buried me in the past has always been my workload; I have always existed in my own version of the world where things needed to be done all at once. I always seemed to be working two or three jobs at a time, studying something or the other, and trying to be wholly present for the people in my life – let’s be real here, this is a big burden to bear, even for the sanest amongst us. I knew that if I wanted the world around me to change, the first thing I needed to change was myself. I needed to reframe my mind and shift my perspective from a goals-based one to one rooted in gratitude. I’m not saying I’m fully there, but I’m working on it. Small steps everyday such as being grateful for waking up, for having water to drink, for having people to turn to, for having good health; we may not be able to move mountains, but we can climb them together.

Another way I’ve been working towards striking the right balance in my life is by setting boundaries. I know I’ve touched on this before but I’ve never really been forthcoming with the ways I implement them because it just felt too personal and too often where there’s a lack of context, things can be misread and assumed to be directed towards individuals. But, we’re grown now, right? We don’t always believe that just because the shoe fits, it was made for us. Sometimes the shoe simply exists. But, I digress. Some of the boundaries I have been quite clear with in recent months are:

  • Not joining any work-related group chats and being open about WhatsApp being a means of personal communication for me and how I’d like for professional communications to happen via work emails
  • Only accessing work emails between 7am and 5pm, anything sent before or after these hours is addressed in the next available window
  • Completing work while physically at work – if I’ve left something incomplete, it doesn’t go home with me, I continue it the next day
  • Being unavailable socially on Sundays as that’s the day I like to grocery shop, meal prep, and iron for the week
  • Scheduling in times for phone calls based on mutual availability instead of random call times and the awkwardness of trying to get off it
  • Keeping conversations to a need-to-know basis unless the situation requires otherwise
  • In the event it requires otherwise, I openly ask what the other party would like for my role to be in this conversation so that there is purpose behind the interaction

I know some of these seem really extra, but they’ve been massively helpful for me. They allow me to have clarity in my mind instead of feeling like I’m existing in this grey area and having to fill in the colours myself. We are so often entrenched in the struggles of our daily lives that we seldom give ourselves the permission to be neither happy nor our true selves. But, let us take this step together towards changing that. Sure, 2020 may be the most shambolic year we have ever lived through, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves along with.

The motives of the year may be cancelled, but you are not. You are still here, you are still breathing, and every single morning that you wake up is an opportunity for you to change the world.

You will be okay, and I am rooting for you.

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Ayesha Khanom

Sometimes a teacher, sometimes a student, but mostly caffeinated. This blog is a terrible attempt at writing out my thoughts - think of it as the 'comments, complaints, and suggestions' section of my brain. Nevertheless, I hope that some of these words will find a place in your heart and will stay with you even when I do not. If you'd like to get in touch, send me a message on Instagram or leave a comment on one of these posts and I'll get back to you at the best possible time.

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