Friday, June 28, 2013

Work + Life Imbalance

Most Thursday afternoons from 1pm-2pm EST, I participate in a weekly tweet chat with a community of creatives led by Oh My! Handmade Goodness. Yesterday's #omhg convo revolved around how we sometimes work ourselves to the ground, but don't feel comfortable enough to take a break or nurture ourselves. Some of us feel that unless we keep chugging 24/7 we're never going to get anywhere or that the work we already put in will somehow unravel while we sleep. We live in a society that applauds the overachievers, the ones who pull the all-nighters, and clock in for over-time. I'm not going to lie, I admire those who go above and beyond for their careers and passions and even possess some of those workaholic tendencies when I'm working on something I love. There have been times when I've found myself deeply entrenched in a project only to come up for air hours and hours later and realize that I haven't eaten and it's past my bedtime. And yet those have been some of my proudest moments.

Relaxing and sleeping just raises my anxiety levels because I feel guilty and lazy, which allows me to enjoy neither. (In fact, sleep deprivation and anxiety are quite connected.) If I'm not making progress, I'm standing still and standing still means I'm not propelling myself anywhere. In New York City, it feels like the entire world is in perpetual motion. You're rushed along with the rush regardless of whether you've someplace to go or not. You're speeding, running, zooming, breathlessly weaving your way through the crowds to get to...where? Sometimes I feel that if I just stand still, I'll either get trampled by the masses or just watch the world leave me behind.

I grew up with the notion that I'll have to work until the day I die in order to survive in this country. This work ethic, instilled in me by immigrant parents who wanted better for their children, can be a killer, but also satisfying. For the past month leading up to Porcupine Hugs' market debut at the Artists & Fleas in Brooklyn, I had been up to neck in card designs, display props, packaging materials, and getting the word out about last weekend's event. Last week, I thought I'd lose my mind from the stress and doubted my ability to even become a successful entrepreneur when my medical bills keep piling on. "I've no business owning my own company when I have other financial concerns," I told myself. In my mind, it would have been better to stop investing in this thing I loved in order to be a "responsible adult." Besides, who decides to start their own business when they're slowly descending into debt?

Who the hell cares.

This past weekend I realized that I was in my element. Not only did I see all my hard work and long nights come together, but I spent two whole days chatting with all kinds of interesting characters. People from out of town who stopped in on their way to the Renegade Craft Fair up the block, foreigners with tales of markets overseas, and stories from other creatives who wanted to know more about my process and in turned shared theirs. Jenelle Montilone of TrashN2Tees, whom I'd only recently "met" through the #omhg chat, even popped in for a visit while she was in town. My spirit was zooming just after the first day. I was proud of myself and elated that others appreciated my work because it made the insanity that preceded it completely worth it.

That said, I really need to get on that whole work-life balance dream. While I had no problems holing myself up in my apartment, I also craved oxygen, exercise, sunlight, play. Yet I consistently deprived myself of these things because I'd convinced myself that work was more important than those frivolous pursuits. I know for a fact that had I attempted any or allowed myself a moment to do nothing in the middle of the storm, I wouldn't have felt the calm. I would have just wanted to dash right into the winds and continue ignoring my spirit's yell for quiet.


  1. I have heard/read of many entrepreneurs who have the same thoughts. Truth be told, my responsibilities keep me from trying to own my own business, even though I think I'd be a stellar business owner/manager. But, with a family, it's better to take the "safe" route with Corporate America, I guess.

    I hope you find the balance, too, perhaps you can share your success with other entrepreneurs who struggle with the same thing.

    1. Thanks! Hopefully I find the secret soon and will definitely share any tricks that work once I get into a better swing.

  2. I am so glad I came across this post! I'm in the same world, trying to juggle chasing dreams without going in to debt. It's frustrating! I wish I could join in on these chat groups and talk with people who I can relate to. Instead, I just stalked everyone you mentioned and I'll weasel myself in. :)

    1. You should totally join in! Everyone is very welcoming and supportive so I'm sure you'd find it a comfy spot to settle into quickly enough. It all starts with jumping right in and saying hello.


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