A tired/busy/brilliantly engaged and engaging friend just prompted me to write this about work/life balance …
I have no idea what work/life ‘balance’ means. Nor do I know why it’s a goal.
I love my work (writing books & stories & plays, Fun Palaces, theatre-making, volunteering for the Women’s Equality Party), I hate my work (it’s often exhausting, I’m not as brilliant as I want to be, how do we persuade all of the people that the arts and sciences belong to everyone, how do we fix the institutionalised sexism that affects everything etc …)
But I do not distinguish between my ‘life’ and my ‘work’.
I am lucky (tired) enough that the work I do – sometimes paid, not always, and often not paid well – is work that makes me glow, makes me believe in the human spirit. Work that teaches me what to do next.
My dad was a shift-worker all of my childhood. He was a labourer much of his life. He mostly hated his (paid) work. He did loads of charity work and community work and he didn’t think of those things as ‘work’, but his actual job? He counted the days until he retired. And he died at 67. He had a steady (low) wage, sick pay, (minimal) holiday pay – I have none of these, have never ever had any of these, not once – but, unlike my father (who had to leave school at 14, so smart and no chances) I really like what I do – and what I do sometimes pays me. Even when it exhausts me, even when I’m not as good at it as I want to be, even when it isn’t working – I like AND I BELIEVE IN what I do.
So I get that for some people, perhaps many people, there is a ‘work/life’ balance needed. But there are also those of us for whom our work is a joy (and a pain) and it is also life. There is no ‘balance’ – because they are the same thing.
For some of us, our lives and our work are the same thing because our work is our passion. And the sooner people stop telling us they’re not, the FAR easier our lives will be.
(It might even raise the value of impassioned work so we could acknowledge that everyone is entitled to work at things that make them happy …)