The Struggles of Work-Life Balance - Is It Necessary?

Photo by    Charles Koh    on    Unsplash

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Minutes before I began writing this post, I sat here in my armchair contemplating how I have so much to do, yet nothing to do at the same time. I know it doesn't seem to make sense but it doesn't for me either - as someone with two assignments due this coming week and an active Netflix account, how can I still get bored in my life? It's frustrating thinking about it because I feel like the perception I have developed of myself in the eyes of others is that I'm some crazy, red-bull fuelled maniac who runs from A to B without rest - part of that is true, but I do have my down days you know. As I've explained to many of my friends before, my social energy runs like a battery: if I end up stuck in meetings back to back on one day, my "introvert mode" kicks in the next day and I hide on campus in my hoodie, hoping that no one can spot me (for those of you who were wondering why Matt looked like a hobo and was so on edge, now you know.). I'm not sure if its the same with others, but I reckon it's due to my lack of self-confidence when I first started university. Fair enough - if you moved overseas from a neat, orderly household into lonely, psycho chaos, you would probably understand (to my friends who have told me about how their exchange experiences was similar to how I described it, this is my shoutout to you). 

This extreme change in lifestyle taught me to categorise my activities into different task items, in order to differentiate my chill (leisure) activities to my important, to-do responsibilities. You see, it all becomes a blur when you live in dorms - you could be studying one minute and the next minute, you're about to pass out from pres before you even get to the bar. 

Establishing Responsibilities

I've mentioned to many of you before that my first year was nothing like my life now: I would come home from my single, two-hour lecture of the day and feel like I deserved to binge another season of Scrubs. It was difficult to be "responsible" because after all, this was my first taste of freedom outside of home. The rules didn't apply to me anymore, I could do whatever I wanted. It wasn't until my first networking event that made me realise how driven and prepared others were for their life beyond university when I finally decided to take action and get myself back into the swing of things. I took one different roles to explore my options and one-by-one, my fear of saying "no" buried me deep into a life of no chill and overcommitment. 

Why Work-Life Balance? A Bad Example. 

There's a nickname for me that tends to float around, resurfacing every now and then when someone decides to make me feel bad about overworking myself. "Matt the Machine" can both be a compliment and an insult but I take it with a grain of salt because of course, everybody wants to be human (new tote bag quote concept?). My life isn't as exciting as it sounds - my struggle this year has been trying to find things that I enjoy doing in my spare time (something which I have too much of this year). Since the past two years has been fuelled by adrenaline and constant excitement, I struggle to accept and be grateful for the times of calm and solitude that I once used to rarely have. 

Setting the Pace

Whenever you browse entrepreneur social media channels, there’s always a hype around breaking the usual routine to keep that hustle life exciting - but what if it was necessary? What if waking up every day at 8AM was the only way of keeping me from losing my pace and progress?

Impact on Mental Health

Mental health is an issue that is widely discussed in Australia but I didn't know much about it growing up. In a place like Hong Kong, the discussion on mental health is often stigmatised (in some instances, linked to the idea of being autistic) and so it makes it hard to talk about your problems when your family dismisses it as stress and tells you to "sleep it off". Mind you, I had amazing parents who took the time to sit down and offer solutions but even then, it might be difficult for them to understand when is an appropriate time to seek external help. 

I speak of this matter because it's happened to me before. Three years ago when I had my first anxiety attack I was in my small, brick-walled room, all alone wondering why I'm such a disappointment to my friends and family. My head was spinning sideways and I found it difficult to breathe. It sounds like something ridiculous to even think about, but it really hit me hard that night and I can never forget the pain I felt that day. Back then, I never took it as anything serious, perhaps as just a bad day, but it wasn't until I took classes in First Aid Mental Health Training did I learn to label it and understand why it happens. 


SIDENOTE: If you're reading this wondering why it's not finished, it's because I was an idiot who didn't save my work (like many of you, I'm sure) and now my writing juices have died like a dried lemon in the sun. 

Matthew Kwong