See, most of my friends and I are artists. We create theatre, and we all chose this line of work because it brings a lot of people joy. Making plays often satisfies one’s intellectual curiosity, allows us to exercise our imagination and emotions, and provides fun physical challenges. Sharing theatrical work with audiences and connecting with them through shared narrative is a powerful, communal experience. And making theatre takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of commitment.
I spend most hours of each day rehearsing, performing, auditioning, emailing to submit my headshot and resume, meeting with potential artistic colleagues, and teaching the arts to supplement all the non-paid sweat equity I put into building my career. Packing in all these projects means having no full days off.
So where does that leave time for anything else?
Lately, I noticed that I was constantly eating on the go while running from a class I teach to a meeting to a performance. My friends commented that I had become irritable with having such a hectic scedule. I fall asleep responding to emails in my bed, and I haven’t visited my adorable niece and nephew in six months and am afraid they are growing up without me.
In giving all of my energy to my art, I’ve failed to give energy to myself and my loved ones.
I make art in an attempt to cultivate the best parts of our humanity which I find to be love, communication, independent thought, and the ability to experience joy. But I can not do that successfully if I do not honor those things in and for myself and my loved ones. I would be a phony if I continued to cultivate these ideals for everyone else but me, a loving partner, my family, and my friends.
So, how do I initiate change? How do I begin to cultivate a work-life balance where I make time for my health, my love life, and my family?
I am going to start by saying no. No to late night emails. No to unnecessary meetings when a shared google doc will do. No to taking on work if I don’t need them financially or if they don’t help me grow.
I am going to start saying yes. Yes to a set bedtime and set mealtimes. Yes to remembering to speak and show love to the people in my sphere. Yes to implementing dates in my calendar to see my family and honoring that commitment. Yes to setting boundaries between work and the other aspects of my life. Yes to carving out time for ME.