This I Believe

Elana - Palos Verdes Estates, California
Entered on March 8, 2007

After seventeen years of hearing that everything should be done in moderation, I have become an advocate of imbalance. I steer clear of perfect proportions; I stray from symmetry; I have learned to embrace the inconsistency of a lopsided lifestyle. I believe in living the unbalanced life. This I believe.

Before I lost faith in balance, I spent much of my time in a very carefully calculated way. If I had work to do, family commitments, or things I neither wanted nor had to do, I devoted just the right amount of time to each of them, solely because I wanted to find a balance between accomplishing the things I should do and those I wanted to do. It was until one of my best friends moved away that I approached life with this mindset, and since she moved I have changed my way of thinking.

Before she made the journey to her new school in Switzerland, I—along with many of my peers—spent a significant amount of time with my friend Morgan. Almost every day after school, I was at her house, but I still made sure I devoted enough time to the other relationships I had. If I invested too much time in one, I thought, the others might suffer; on the other hand, not as much time spent on my relationship with Morgan meant giving up time spent the way I wanted to spend it.

After Morgan left, our friendship faced the challenge of withstanding the nine-hour time difference. A phone call from her wasn’t the same now as it had been a month ago; every chance to talk to her became a privilege. Now that I had fewer opportunities to talk to her, I began to regret not having spent more time with her before. I had always wanted to see her, but for fear that I would lose track of every other relationship and responsibility of mine, I devoted time I would have spent with her to other people and other things, many of which I didn’t necessarily want to do. My attempt at balancing time among all of the things there were to do and people there were to see in fact prevented me from achieving my initial goal: being happy.

Maybe to Plato moderation meant everything, but in the context of my life, a balanced approach is not always the right one. Too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I would now argue that doing a lot of what I love is the best way to live. If you love something or someone, you have to be willing to let a few other things go—not completely, but a little bit. And if you never let yourself love anything or anyone fully, you may be giving up your own opportunity to be happy. True passions and genuine friendships are privileges as well as responsibilities, and we shouldn’t be afraid of disrupting the balance in our lives in order to pursue them. This I believe.