The Tightrope of Life

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by Tia Smith

Today’s world teaches us that we’re meant to be all things, to all people, in all ways. We’re meant to find this oft quoted but rarely defined “work-life balance” and we are meant to smile while doing so. We’re meant to always be up so that everyone else feels a little better about themselves by proxy.

We are meant to give our all to our jobs, to our families, to our friends and even sometimes to the random person. There is no allowance for being down, for being quiet, for being alone. You are meant to unicycle yourself across the tightrope whilst juggling the myriad parts of your life without dropping any of those balls. And quite simply, that’s just tiring. And so very unrealistic.

Very recently, I learned a poignant life lesson. A good friend of my family’s died and as awful as it was, his death, and by extension his life, taught me more than ever that no one lives forever. His life showed me that you can fit forever into each day if you just remember that each day belongs to you. We as women (and I’m sure many men fit into this category also) tend to think of ourselves last. We do for others every moment of every day and leave the scraps for ourselves. We’re taught from a young age that our job is to take care of everyone else and then ourselves. We are invariably kinder to others than we are to ourselves because that’s our job. That’s our purpose. And that’s what we are told should define us. So we let it.

However, when we turn that simple thought onto its head, it’s amazing how easily our view changes. My friend put himself first. Now, don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t selfish. In fact, he was one of the kindest people I knew. He just understood that when you put yourself first it is no longer a game of subtraction, that you actually multiply the amount of you there is to give. He taught me that balance doesn’t come from trying to be all things, but being the best at the one thing. His life proved to me the importance of being your true and utter-most self, and once that happens the rest of life then falls into place.

He taught me to blast the music and dance like no one’s watching even when they are. He taught me to experience each moment as if it were both the first and the last. He taught me to open your arms even wider as it’s often the best way to connect. He even taught me the poignant lesson that some Manchester United fans can be good people.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2019 edition of RG Magazine.

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