Balance Throughout Life

Remember when you first learned to ride a bike?

Well, I don’t remember the very first time, but I’m sure it involved my dad running behind me, holding the seat, making sure I didn’t fall. He wasn’t sure I could keep balanced long enough to keep moving. I’m assuming it took a little bit of practice, but I ended up spending pretty much all of my childhood riding around the neighborhood on my bike.

I remember going down the “big hill” as fast as gravity would let me. I remember being able to ride with no hands. I was so good at balancing my bike, that by the time I was in fifth grade, I could do laps around the block without ever needing to touch the handlebars. Talk about a balancing act! As an adult, you might compare riding a bike to transportation or exercise, it’s not something you consider when thinking about balance. It takes a lot of strength and balance to keep that little machine going. However, as a child, the only thing I can remember was how much fun I had while riding my bike. How free it felt. How the “big hill” made my stomach do somersaults all summer long. It was a pleasant experience in balance that I sure did take for granted.

When I was in high school, I was involved in absolutely every sport and after-school activity. I took tap, ballet and jazz classes, I ran track and field, and played basketball and softball.  I ran cross country one season, was a member of the marching units, and volunteered. I worked part-time during my senior year, and I still managed to be ranked number four in my class. I’m not sure I could balance all of those activities at this point in my life. However, I don’t ever remember feeling like I couldn’t handle what was on the day’s to-do list. I was always having fun no matter what I was up to, and I never felt like I needed to try very hard to balance my schedule. I would say my high school years were pretty successful in that regard! Emotionally, it was like a roller coaster ride. Oh, the teenage years. Hormones, first loves, rejection, independence. We’ve all been there, and it was definitely a struggle, but we all came out better for it.

During college, I experienced times of balance but also struggled with being unbalanced. Looking back, I don’t believe that I was emotionally ready for higher education. I wish I was able to recognize that I needed a year or more after high school to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become. I began college as a pre-med, biology major. My freshman year was relatively nice. I was involved in a few organizations, kept my grade point average high, and held a part-time job. But there were some hiccups along the way. I commuted to school, so I had a tough time adjusting to making new friends. I felt like an outsider; lonely and different. My father got remarried rather abruptly, causing my siblings and I to feel abandoned and forgotten. My grades suffered. My social life suffered. I quit both my job and the extracurricular activities I was involved in, and I became depressed. There is nothing balanced about depression.

At the end of college, I met a guy. Not just any guy. He is the yin to my yang. We fit together like peanut butter and jelly. And we were inseparable; like when you take a big bite out of a pb&j and realize only too late that there is way too much peanut butter! Anyways, this guy taught me how to chill out a little bit. He helped me realize that I cannot control every minute of every day, and that needing to control everything causes me anxiety. He helped me finally be able to say, “it is what it is” and mean it. Not “it is what it is, but I have a problem with it”. He balanced out the parts of my life that I couldn’t balance on my own. After some time, I realized that I was balancing his life too. He needed my organization and drive to help him move through a tough time. Sometimes we need other people to help us be balanced or to help us begin a journey in the right direction.

Being an adult is hard work. Sometimes I allow the word “hard” to define adulthood for me. I get caught up in every day, urgent matters, and I forget to take a few minutes for myself. I forget to plan some days off of work to relax and enjoy life. I’ve recently started waking up early to spend a few hours on myself every day before work. Ok, not every day, but I’m working on it. I meditate, journal, read, and go to the gym to exercise. Spending this time on my personal development has really helped me focus on my goals. It has helped me be able to take a step back and observe myself. I’ve noticed changes in my attitude, my patience, and my ability to acknowledge when I am cranky or agitated. It’s allowed me to recognize when I need to remove myself from a situation before I say something I will regret because I didn’t get enough sleep or am frustrated. I’ve noticed  I have the ability to focus for longer periods of time and am more productive. I also experience less anxiety. You can say that I am currently in a state of becoming balanced. I definitely have a long way to go, and there may be many bumps in the road that will tip me over. The point is, we are never going to be completely balanced. It’s just not possible. We live in a fluid environment that is always moving and changing, and we have to learn to go with the flow and do our best. There is always a lesson to be learned, and growth to be experienced. 

Melissa Rafalko

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Leave a Reply