This I Believe

Jennifer - Liverpool, New York
Entered on January 23, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“This I Believe…”

I believe that living a balanced life brings the most happiness.

For many years, my life was out of balance. As an undergraduate student, I focused on my technical studies and relationships with friends. I spent little time with my family, on exercise or on creative projects. When I entered the work force I focused on my career. First, at Lockheed Martin, I worked full time while earning my Master’s degree. Combined, I spent seventy to eighty hours per week on work and school. My personal life suffered as I spent little time with friends and even less with family. It was a struggle to fit in exercise and other personal pursuits. Further, I felt stress when I did because I had so much work to do. After finishing the master’s program, I started a faster paced job where overtime was the norm. Here I continued working long hours and spent a lot of time traveling for test events which kept me away from home for weeks at a time. The time I gained from not being in school was taken up by more work responsibilities. I was still intensely focused on my career and other areas of my life suffered.

I first learned the value of balance in a yoga class. In the midst of my heaviest work load I began taking yoga. My purpose was to improve my physical flexibility, but I got so much more out of it. From the beginning, I didn’t have much trouble with strength or flexibility poses. Balancing poses, however, were always extremely difficult until I opened up and realized that the reason I couldn’t balance physically was that my life was out of balance. I realized this truth when during a particularly difficult balancing pose, I closed my eyes and the first thing that popped into my head was knitting. Knitting wasn’t the key to balancing my life, but finding a creative outlet was a good start. Little by little I tried to find more balance in my life and the poses got easier, and life was happier.

Upon the birth of my son this past July, my life got out of balance again, only this time, the pendulum had swung in the other direction. I had stopped working a few months before his birth in preparation for his arrival and the doctoral studies I would start in the fall. I was very focused on family and the home in these months immediately before and after his birth. I found myself feeling jealous of my husband for going to work, and at that point I realized my life was out of balance again. I wasn’t getting the mental stimulation I had thrived on for so many years, and I missed that.

Now that I’m in school I find my life is in very good balance. I spend most days with my son caring for and nurturing him as well as playing like a kid again. I am also mentally stimulated by my coursework and research. I have an occasional creative outlet in cooking and knitting and am able to spend quality time with my husband in the evening. I even spend more time with my parents, which was lacking when I was so career-focused. This is the happiest I have ever been and I truly believe it is because I am living a balanced life.