Finding Balance in a Busy World
by Brittany Bruner
As a young, female student near graduation, I have taken great interest in reading some of the news pieces circulating by women in positions of power about balancing family life with work. This started with my exposure to “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter. In this article, Slaughter discusses the problem with feminists telling young women that they can have it all, that they can have a high profile job that they move up in as fast as men, and that they can still balance a family life. When Slaughter left her high-profile government job to be closer to her family (while still working full-time as a professor at Princeton, no small feat itself), she found herself being pitied by other women who seemed to look down on her for sacrificing opportunities for her family. She acknowledges that her lifestyle works now because she has control over her schedule, rather than having busyness decide how she spends all her time.
In connection with this issue of busyness, I recently read the article “Is There Life After Work?” by Erin Callan in the New York Times. She noted that her life before her unemployment in 2008 was dictated by her work schedule. She was constantly on her phone, and soon her work life saw more and more extended hours. Work became her life. After she quit her job, she started working more on her relationship with her husband. She regrets the things she gave up for her career.
This article is interesting to me in my current situation because I am getting ready to graduate and enter into the “real” world. While I don’t have a husband to make time for or to make decisions with, I do have relationships with other people. When I think back on my experiences from years past, I don’t remember a lot of the things that I did at work, but I do remember my relationships because they are lasting things, and they are also the things that make me the happiest. By no means am I suggesting that we quit working and spend endless time creating relationships. I value being busy. I highly value the work that I have put into school, my job, and my singing group, Noteworthy. But if my life consisted only of these things, I fear that I would reach the end of my life filled with regret and longing for relationships that were never developed.
I think sometimes we wait for a time when we won’t be as busy as we are now. But busyness is never going to go away. So I recommend that we evaluate if the things we are doing right now will get us the things that we want out of life, and reschedule our lives to get those things. I don’t want to end up down the road fifty years from now lamenting my decisions, especially decisions regarding family relationships because they are the most lasting things we can invest in.