Why Work/Life Balance Is A Unicorn That Does Not Exist
Work + Life Balance

Why Work/Life Balance Is A Unicorn That Does Not Exist

by Hannah Moss
Photos Lynette Boyle | October 30, 2014

It’s 6:15 p.m. on a Friday and I am at Pura Vida Yoga Studio in downtown San Diego against my will. No, there is no gun held to my temple, just a will to work on the everlasting debacle dubbed “work-life balance.” And the struggle is real, my friend. In theory, effective compartmentalization would assure that everything fit into either “work” or “life” activities, thus creating a sense of “having it all” through a balanced act. But in practice, I’ve found this theory to fall apart—much like my crow pose in this yoga class.

Work has been a week of deadlines and new accounts punctuated by more stress and then some euphoria leading me into a downward dog of anxiety. Unlike a normal yogi who focuses solely on their practice, balance and breath (or the hunk to the right—hey, boy, hey!), my mind concerns itself solely with work:

“Did I send that email to Carol?”

“I hope the reports were sent. Remind myself to remind myself to check.”

“Am I wearing too much yellow at the office? Am I wearing enough yellow?”

“I need a pedicure, ASAP.”

“But, did I send that email to Carol?”

Upon starting my new job, I thought myself invincible—handling both work and personal accounts seamlessly—a feeling only felt by a recent graduate plagued with naiveté and oblivion. Work was my number one priority, and it showed. I allowed missed calls from friends and family to build well into the double-digits, texts to be left unanswered, voicemails unheard and Facebook messages unread.

Upon starting my new job, I thought myself invincible—handling both work and personal accounts seamlessly—a feeling only felt by a recent graduate plagued with naiveté and oblivion.

It wasn’t until I befriended what some refer to as “rock bottom” when I realized there was a serious imbalance.

Every Friday from the train station, I call my dad ritually. My dad who insists I listen to a little more Bob Dylan and a little less 2 Chainz; who believes in my voice as a writer; who gave 8-year-old me a standing ovation when I was issued a red card for judo-chopping Bobby Brennan in the abdomen because he called me fat; who texts me poetry on particularly rough days; and, finally, who has been the equivalent of Ralph Macchio’s martial arts master in The Karate Kid when I moved across the country—far from him—to start my career.

Fifteen minutes into the conversation, we had covered almost everything from the details of my work, why I like work, why I miss Indiana taxes, why my landord’s incompetency is in my favor and then back to what I was doing at work, work, work. In the last two minutes of the conversation, before the train came and disconnected us, he mentioned talking to my brother, his wife, his friends and some of hers.

“Woah, what’s the occasion?” I asked.

“Just wishing me a happy birthday,” he answered.

The next thirty seconds of incessant apologies and trite birthday wishes would not make up for the criminal offense of forgetting my father’s birthday. The train’s arrival signaled our goodbyes and my promise to be better.

An elderly man sitting on the bench behind me with a cane between his knees and a burgundy argyle sweater keeping him toasty in the 80 degree San Diego weather softly said, “That’s low,” with no intent to safeguard my self-respect. I felt the weight of a crown being placed atop my head as I was enthroned to the worst-daughter-ever club; we meet every third Thursday of the month and discuss shame, presents and glitter. I boarded the train, nodding to the man with a half hand wave, half head shrug denoting his sentiment was well received.

But, maybe I will never master the balancing act of work and life because compartmentalizing them separately for equality is impossible; not everything fits inside proper boundaries.

Before I flow into child’s pose—an indication that my yoga session at Pura Vida is coming to an end—I give crow pose one last shot: a maneuver where balance is key as you gradually shift your knees onto your triceps and gaze downward. So okay. I fall flat on my face because I haven’t quite mastered the balancing act all too similar to the “work-life” struggle: something I strive for, yet can’t quite master. But, maybe I will never master the balancing act of work and life because compartmentalizing them separately for equality is impossible; not everything fits inside proper boundaries.