When I was younger, I was actually an athletic person. I know, try not to die of shock. Or laughter. But I really was. I swam, I played soccer and basketball (the latter being by far the better of the two). I was in Tap, Jazz, and Ballet, as well as gymnastics. I even played intramurals in middle school and was the shortest person accepted to the girls basketball team.
One thing I didn’t realize during that time that I’m realizing now is that each of those activities had something in common: balance.
You balance on the diving board, toes just over the edge, building the courage and preparing your form for the dive. You balance on one foot to pass the ball to the next player for a shot at the goal or hoop. You balance on your toes, holding your arms just so until your cue to move plays and you glide to the next position. And you balance on the beam, feeling with your toes to make sure you have enough room, and setting your position for that cartwheel on what logic says is much too-small of a platform.
Now, as a 23-year-old (almost) college grad, with a full-time job, and friends, and church, and family, and serious introversion needs, I’m learning that the balancing act doesn’t end with the sports.
Your body needs balance. The vitamins and minerals and hormones that keep your body moving can easily get knocked out of whack, and usually don’t give you any sign that anything is wrong. However, this still has a major impact on your health and emotions. For example, my mom was struggling with depression-like symptoms last winter. A blood panel showed her Vitamin D levels at .4. They’re supposed to be at 30. Vitamin D deficiency makes you tired and depressed. Taking her super-high vitamin dose helped her start functioning again. My blood panel just showed I was in the 20s so guess who else is taking a vitamin. Also, iron. Iron deficiency can cause many things, but one big one is exhaustion, which, if you know anything about me, explains a lot when you combine the two for me. (This isn’t the complete answer to my anxiety issues, but that’s under control now and an overly-kicked horse)
Then there’s balance in relationships. One of the reasons Phoebe and I work so well as friends, despite our frequent wondering at how it all happened, is we balance each other. When one of us is wavering on something, the other has a very simple opinion on it, usually along the lines of “Obviously there’s only one choice, dummy.” Often we question our friendship because we have almost nothing in common, but sometimes I think that’s why God put us together. We aren’t very good at debating each other, but we have different perspectives and outlooks on life. I’m very conscientious of acceptable behavior and societal norms in whatever group I’m in. Phoebe couldn’t care less. In some situations I’m very polite and beat around the bush, while Phoebe is blunt and tells it like it is. Other times (like a few weeks ago at Bible Study), Phoebe tries to be subtle, and I just come out and say what we’re all thinking. Neither of us is great at standing up for ourselves, but I dare you to cross us when we’re defending each other.
And finally, you need balance in your social life. I have a tendency to devote myself to everything or nothing. Both are bad for my mental health. One thing with the INFJ is that we’re really closer to ambiverts and suffer without the balance of human interaction and solitude. I swing from one extreme to another, not allowing myself to reflect or doing nothing but reflect (wanna talk about depressing things, be reflective for too long). So I’ll throw myself into 5 classes, an internship, school, Bible Study, friend hangouts, family events, and homework and then wonder why I mentally snap. Or, I’ll go for months being just about alone and doing very little and wonder why I feel like nothing has any meaning.
This is my struggle spot.
I went from being in that 5 classes situation, to prepping the house for sale, to selling in three days, to Peru, to moving with an injured Aiden, to painting, to… nothing. Absolutely nothing. For months.
Did you know that when you’re the only one of your friends not working full time it makes getting together rather difficult? It does. Who’d of thunk.
Now, I’m working full time, and again trying to have a social life. So far this consists of hanging with Phoebe and Jo more frequently and going to Bible Study. But I also hung out with a friend from school, so I’m improving there. However, I’m no longer getting much alone time, which for an introvert (especially an intuitive one) is just not healthy.
Related side note: I’ve never been what anyone would call a self-confident person, although I’ve been told I appear it occasionally in certain settings. When I fail, I doubt anyone else thinks anything of it. But I am my own harshest critic, and I feel the sting long after the bruises are gone. Mistakes that others find cute or endearing are painful memories for me, and I would rather they stopped talking about them and forget I was even in that setting. Now, the mistakes don’t just make me look like an idiot in class. The stakes are higher. Of course I still live at home, and I can as long as I need to. I will never be allowed to completely slip through the cracks, but what my family sees as setbacks, I see as personal failures. Finding my current job helped. Suddenly I was surrounded by highly qualified people who couldn’t find jobs anywhere for months. It has nothing to do with me, so much as the system by which we search and apply for jobs. They even have articles in Forbes about how messed up it is.
So that’s my current lesson in adulting. I’m trying to find my center of balance in this new phase of life. I feel like I’m on a balance beam again. I mastered the low ones, then the medium one, and now I’ve been moved up another level and have to regain my confidence and find my stride. I’m still staring at the ground, seeing how far down it is compared to last time, and then reminding myself that’s what the mats are for, then looking down again and knowing it will still hurt when I fall, even if it is just my pride.
There’s this marvelous quote that I (re) discovered recently from Erin Hanson.
What if I fall?
Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?
I promise, this is all related.
I may not be ready to move to the other side of the country yet, but I think I need to find my balance before I do anyway. An unbalanced hot air balloon plane will never fly straight. Nor will a ship weighed down by too much cargo be able to sail properly. It takes a balance of burdens and lightness, of working and playing, of socializing and introverting.
I think this quote pretty much sums up how I feel God has been speaking to me these past few months. Through my parents, Mrs. Andrea, my friends, even my professors, this small thread has been woven through all of it. My anxiety and fear build, telling me that to move away means I’ll probably burn out, that I’ll fail, that I’m not good enough, or simply not enough. And through the whole tumult of fear and doubt and sorrow, God’s been whispering, “Oh, but my dear, what if you fly?”