Balancing Act Afterthoughts: Don't Lose Sight of What's Important

One of my twitter friends mentioned a dilemma she was having earlier this week about balancing her outdoor pursuits and passions with activities she and her friends enjoy. This is a topic I frequently think about and explore, but still haven't managed to find a perfect solution to. I wrote a little bit on the topic last month when faced both with choosing sets of people to do things with and choosing activities. The comments I received on that post comforted me - a lot of us outdoorsy folks go through this, and we're all struggling to balance what can be defined as a "normal" life with our favorite activities.

But from what I remember, I had similar difficulties in college with varsity swimming. As a distance swimmer, I was required to attend 9 practices each week, sometimes 10, which put a significant damper on social activities. Most of us ignored our need for 8 hours of sleep to spend long nights holed up in the library studying, or long nights being young and silly. But as my high school coach told me, we had three options - swim hard, study hard, and party hard - and could only do two at a time with any success. I accepted the fact that I'd never be an Olympic-caliber swimmer and tried to do all three with a focus on the first two. College was pretty great.

Now that I've graduated and "grown up," I've found millions of other things to fill my time, specifically outdoor pursuits. Spending 20 hours a week doused in chlorine didn't give me nearly enough time to explore climbing, backpacking, and other passions in college. Now, I'm making up for lost time, and often find myself paying a small price socially.

I love my friends. I know some truly unique, remarkable people here. I've met most of them directly or indirectly through TerraMar, which means a lot of them share my passion for playing outside in some capacity. But we all have different priorities, and in an effort to explore my outdoor pursuits, I miss things. Friends go out without me, or don't invite me because they know I'll likely pass on a wild night out to rest up for the next day's activities, or a happy hour to hit the rock gym. This makes me sad. But if I forgo a night at the rock gym, or a few hours sleep the night before a trip, to have a blast with my friends, this can also make me a bit sad.

The reality it, us outdoorsy folks are not alone. Everyone has to choose between activities, friends, events, everything. Whether it's a climbing session, a photography class, a gym workout, a dance class, or catching up with one set of friends instead of another, all of us have to make these choices. Sometimes, it can be more important to have a martini with the girls then a night at the rock gym.

But what I've tried to accomplish is taking a look at the activities I choose to pursue in lieu of others, and look at what I've gained. I've had the opportunity to do some pretty cool stuff. And despite what I've missed, I've gained quite a bit. True I feel a pang of, "what about me?" when friends go out without me, but the real friends will still be there when I get back from the Adirondacks, the rock gym, and local bouldering spots. I appreciate each of them, their unique nuances, and the activities they do that make them who they are. We all appreciate each other for our passions, and keeping that in mind is difficult.

So, to all of you who have difficulty with this balance, don't lose sight of what's truly important to you, and recognize those special people in your life who will support you no matter where your activities take you.


Katie said…
:) I like this. some good food for thought.
Kurtis Sensenig said…
word up Katie... we are due for another lunch, maybe next week. see, lunch is always a good time to hang
Kurtis Sensenig said…
word up Katie... we are due for another lunch, maybe next week. see, lunch is always a good time to hang