Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Finding Equilibrium: The Myth of Superwoman

Hump Day.

6am: Blog piece for Rivaflowz.com. Post. Promote.
8am: Balance schedule for the day. Cue India Arie’s “Get It Together”.
9am: Head to work. Start work.
10am: First meeting of the day. Zone out, during unimportant aspects. Brainstorm freelance pitches.
11am: Send freelance pitches and send work emails simultaneously.
12pm: Lunch, while talking to your boss, while editing student anthologies, while responding to special requests: Erica can you help edit...Erica can you come to an event…Erica any book recommendations?
1pm: Back to work. Meet with staff to make sure they’re ready for teaching afternoon classes. Prep. Copy. Distribute.
2pm: Run across town to the next charter school. Prep another staff cohort. Prep. Copy. Distribute. Call Dad. Love You Dad.
3pm: Boss’ unexpected special requests. Handle. File. Write. Sign. Inbox.
4pm: Meet with mentee, at site, twelve blocks away. Make a mad dash. You’re late.
5pm: “Ms. Erica, you were supposed to be here at 4:30pm?!” I know. I know. I’m sorry.
6pm: Continue painting with mentee. She loves art. It’s the only thing that keeps her from flipping out. “Let’s paint through it.” She smiles. Brushstroke. Hip-Hop playing, in the background.
7pm: Spoken Word show at university. Google Maps. Swipe Metrocard. Find Building. Throw off coat. Pull out poems. Warm up. Pace.
8pm: Perform. Clap. Hug audience members that you know. Apologize for having to leave early.
9pm: Ride the train home. Plan your blog for tomorrow. Respond to any freelance emails.
10pm: Arrive home. Order food, because you’re too tired to cook. Text with your most current love affair. Assure him that you’ve remembered to eat today. Call mom.
11pm: Food arrives. Boss calls. Debrief about the day. Put down food, until you’re finished speaking with her.
12am: Eat. Watch SVU. Boss calls again. Fix an error that she made. Sigh.
1am: Babe? Are you up? I really want to talk. I need to de-stress. He’s asleep.
1:30am: Go to bed. Start over in less than five hours.

I swear I’m not Superwoman. I have a ton of friends who use the entity to describe me, but I’m the furthest thing from and no one on earth can be. Up above, it may look like I have everything handled, but I want to explain what happens between the cracks:

I didn’t get to finish that blog piece, because my boss called earlier than expected and it didn’t go up until the next day or the day after. I probably didn’t get to all my emails, because I needed to get to my next appointment, leaving friends/family annoyed, upset, or confused. I’m disgusting at text messaging. I get over 100 a day and I can’t keep up. I probably lost my brand new umbrella, running from site to site. (I kid you not, I probably have spent a grand on umbrellas in the last two years.) My mentee rolls her eyes, because I always show up a few minutes later than I say I would. (Thank God I always come bearing a smile and fun things for us to do.) I don’t get to listen to other artists, at shows, because I have to go home to finish up work and/or sleep. My mother is hurt, because I can’t spend more than ten minutes on the phone with her. My significant other, of the moment, feels neglected.

Superwoman is a myth. Even in the DC Universe, she hasn’t truly come to fruition yet: There’s the times where folks mistakenly call Wonderwoman by the name, a moment where Lois Lane dreams of herself as Superwoman, a glimpse of Supergirl all grown up, and an alternate universe where Superman is of an alternate sex. Weirddddd. But they haven’t actually created an all out Superwoman. She doesn’t exist yet.

& I’m kind of glad she doesn’t.
I need no fictional reinforcement of the stereotype, for any woman.
It isn’t fair.

The most valuable piece of grown-up advice I’ve ever received was: “You’re always going to drop the ball on something.”

I’m always dropping the ball.
I hear it in the voices of let down loves.
I see it cross the eyes of people I’ve bonded with.
I flip through my neglected writing portfolio and it’s slashed across it.
It’s in the spot of my chalkboard desk that can’t catch a break, because I’m always crying into it.
If I could avoid it, I would.

Forgetting. Not responding. Not getting to it.
None of it is intentional.
There are days where I clear my entire schedule, just to pick the ball back up.
Playing catch-up. 

You’re always going to drop the ball on something.

I drop it in trying to maintain my diet.
(I'm in the office late and the only viable option, after a certain hour, is something fast.)
I drop it in maintaining my household.
(I still have to put up that chalkboard wall.)
I drop it in keeping up on my reading.
(I’m sticking to not buying any books, for a while.)

You’re always going to drop the ball on something.

I have to say it every time I feel like I’ve failed. No one is perfect at everything and no one can do it all.  It may seem that way, from afar, but I’m sure there are flaws in every one of the situations you admire...

No. You cannot execute everything concisely, all at once. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Perfection is not the goal. Equilibrium is.

As much as we’d all like to be flawless, in all of our every day trials, the reality is that it isn’t possible. However, finding and maintaining a healthy balance is.

Everyone’s effort to find balance is different. It might come in the form of ending your days with catching up, prioritizing things of absolute importance, and/or finding a space/time that’s just your own, to work things out.

For me? Balance looks like this lately:

  •        Telling my boss that there are certain hours that she can’t call or turning off my phone entirely.
  •       Finding a love interest that has a schedule that’s just as inundated as mine and that understands that every day won’t be amazing.
  •           Spending more time with my grandmother and my family, instead of social/networking events.
  •          Writing in the cracks: Meetings that start late, lunch breaks, train rides, and weekend evenings.
  •          Sending mass text messages to let folks know I’ll be delayed in responding, but that I remember and I love them.
  •          Doing all the things that I love, when I do have a little free time: painting, cooking, interior design, and more…

That last point is so important. You can’t be present and strong for everyone, if you don’t renew your strength. Finding time for you is the key to sustaining balance. You’ve got to replenish energy, in order to give it.

I am balancing, but I’m still dropping the ball.
& picking it back up.
& dropping it again.
& picking it back up.

Being a woman of superiority, not Superwoman, means understanding that there will always be tribulation, but having the power to overcome and sustain. Things will always get crazy, but they’ll always simmer down again. After the storm, there’s always sun.

Good Morning.

I always love your feedback! Feel free to comment below. 
How do you maintain your equilibrium?


Erika D. Coldman said...

Currently trying to find my way back to some order in my life. Your posts remind me constantly that there is ALWAYS time; it is just a matter of how I delegate it.

Anonymous said...

You are amazing (like you didn't know)! I graduated from Hampton in 2011. We've never met, but you just said everything I've been feeling. Thank you!!

Terria Bowser said...

I make lists and remind myself that everything doesn't have to be done at once. I surround myself with people who's lives are as chaotic as mine so we can understand each others schedules. I write during commercial breaks and voice record ideas when I'm driving. And I always find daily inspiration to keep me going.

Unknown said...

After drafting two blog posts and not being able to finish them, failing to finish an assignment at work for a better opportunity, and looking over my desk at work to see the end of the month pile up, I know how this feels all the time. Always dropping the ball. It's funny that you write this because yesterday, I was thinking about the concept of Superwoman and had came up with this thought:

Don't expect me to be Superwoman without fault.

I teared up a little while reading this because I want to do it all and do it well. But nothing is perfect and as long as we all can bounce back, it will be okay.

Je Tuan Lavyonne said...

This has definitely hit home for me. I've been trying not to beat myself up for the things that I don't get done.
I have a to do list everyday but life happens and messes it up.