"How do you do all that you do?" is a question I am asked with some frequency. I usually shrug my shoulders and respond with, "I don't know, I just do." Or I offer up some semi-cliche piece of advice, "Well, I schedule everything, even my down time." Both of which are true. I don't really know for sure how I do manage to do everything and well, I do schedule nearly every minute of my day.
I think though if I sat back, as I did today, and gave it some deeper though I'd probably say two things:
1. That I manage to do all that I do because I want to.
All that I do in my life right now: school, work, dance, music, write, exercise, etc., are all things I really, want to do. I don't mean that I just think to myself, "oh that would be nice, I might try it some day." No, what I mean is that my desire to do any of these things is motivated by something deep inside of me. To set any of these things aside, to not do them would be akin to setting a part of myself aside. I would feel somehow incomplete if I stopped doing any of them.
2. (this is probably the more important of the two) The title of this blog post is a lie.
I have been known to say that I am the last person in the world to hold up as an example of someone who "has it all" because when I want to accomplish something I tend to go all in to achieve it. What does this mean exactly?
It means that in order to have time to do all of these things I can't work a regular job. I need one with flexible hours that is willing to put up with a complete schedule change every time a new semester begins. It means my paycheck is not always predictable and it means I'm often living on the edge of poverty. It also means I've learned to cobble together a 'living' by working two different jobs and teaching. I put in extra hours during the breaks between semesters. It also means I've learned to be very creative with the amount of money I do have.
It means that my social life tends to vary from sporadic to non-existent. My time commitments are such that I don't often have extra hours to spare. I turn down so many invitations because a paper is due, or a lesson needs to be planned, or I need to rehearse a performance, or I just want time to practice. That said, the time I do spend with friends and loved ones is time that I cherish and I am more present during these interactions that I perhaps used to be. I am thankful too that I have people in my life who are so very understanding and supportive.
It often means battling loneliness, self doubt and worry. It means late nights with little sleep. It means that towards the end of each semester it feels like my life is falling apart, my laundry becomes a week or more behind and I accumulate a place setting for eight worth of dirty dishes on the floor around my desk.
This is not a complaint. I do all of these things willingly and I take a great amount of joy in what I do. For every moment of "why the hell I am doing this" there is a musical epiphany, a new dance step learned, a story written, a new idea absorbed, a debate that expands my mind, a creation is born or a connection made.
So, for all of those others who struggle with pursuing a dream and feeling overwhelmed or on the edge of defeat, it is perfectly okay to be in that place.
It is okay for this to not be easy. It's okay to feel like it's too much, or to worry that you won't make it. It's okay to break down in tears and pitch the occasional fit. I question my own sanity on a nearly daily basis and you know, I think maybe it takes just a tiny bit of crazy to step off the expected path to pursue a dream.
I don't believe that there is such a thing as 'having it all.' I think most things that are worthwhile in life often require some amount of commitment and sacrifice. That often means that for some parts of our lives we may have to settle for having most or even just some of it.
And that is okay too.