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My non-negotiables in life

non negotiables in life(Image via vlad on Flickr)

These holidays I’m republishing some old posts that newer readers might have missed first time around. Enjoy!

You know what’s crazy? Twenty-something life. I don’t know how people with families do it. I have had this massive running to-do list since changing jobs, and unfortunately, am relying on T to help cross off a lot of those things. Let’s just say that is making progress verrrrrrrrry slow. It’s really frustrating me at the moment, and while I know I’m letting it get to me more than it should, I JUST WANT IT ALL OFF MY PLATE.

An illustration of the box juggling pattern.

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes it seems like everybody else has their life so much more together than I do. Full social calendars. Great flatmates. Great wardrobes. Great fitness levels. But look a little closer and it’s clear – as I already know – that you can’t give 100 percent to to your work, to your relationship, to your friendships, to your fitness, to your finances, to your hobbies and to your diet every single day. Those priorities have to shift from day to day and focusing too hard on one area for too long isn’t sustainable.

I think I’m in the minority in that I act kind of older than I am, because I’ve been on my own since 17 and quite honestly, I just want a calm, quiet life. Especially when you’re female. I was recently talking to someone (male) who happily admitted to not having a lot of close friends, and didn’t sound especially sad about it – while I feel the same way, I feel like I should almost be ashamed that I’m not going out every night of the week.  Being around people generally drains me, and when things aren’t going well, I tend to retreat and would rather be left alone than talk to anybody.

For me, three things are key to preserving my sanity:

Sleep. Self-explanatory. I’m sure I could be much productive if I was the kind who could get by on 5 hours a night, but you can’t fight nature. Likewise, I’m never going to be a morning person, so I work to my strengths.

Me time, aka downtime. Where I don’t have to be around people – and plenty of it. Where I can play guitar, read, blog, watch movies, clean the house.

Food. One of the quickest things to go down the drain is often home cooking. But it makes me really unhappy if I can’t come home at a decent hour to make and eat a proper dinner. For me, making time to cook from scratch, bake delicious treats, and savour the eating process is non-negotiable. I’m also planning to do more cooking in bulk: that means fewer dishes during the week and gives us leeway on later zombie nights.

How do you deal when life gets overwhelming?

18 thoughts on “My non-negotiables in life

  • Reply Amber from Girl with the Red Hair August 9, 2011 at 14:08

    Ha – love that little image you’ve got there!

    I definitely don’t balance it all every single day. Some days certain things fall by the wayside and that’s OK! Getting in my workouts every day is super important to me because they help me stay focused and on track. I just feel crappy about myself if I miss a workout.

    Cooking is also important. Sometimes we get low on food and rely too much on takeout or crappy processed food. Having fresh, healthy food in the house is super important to me!

  • Reply addvodka August 9, 2011 at 14:43

    I love down time. So many people my age hate it and would rather be social all the time but being just by myself and hanging out and reading a good book is one of my favorite things to do.

    Then again, I lead the least balanced life ever, haha.

  • Reply Geek in Heels August 9, 2011 at 14:52

    I could’ve written this post myself. But instead of cooking (I much prefer eating to cooking 😉 ), I would substitute reading. Curling up with a good book never gets old.

  • Reply Tracey August 9, 2011 at 18:21

    I feel the same way, often feeling guilty about not going out with friends more. I have a few close friends, and then just people I see occasionally or chat on facebook with. This doesn’t bother me, but my very social parents can’t understand it. I’d much rather curl up with a book or movie on a Friday night rather than gettin drunk and spewing my guts up on the street like many of my peers. Go figure 🙂

  • Reply Sense August 9, 2011 at 21:08

    I hear ya–I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how people with kids do it. I can barely take care of myself most days. And a lot of days, I do a terrible job of it.

    When things are crazy, I go with it while it lasts, getting as much sleep as possible, of course. If it gets to be so much that my health suffers, I have to stop and take something off of my plate. That sounds too easy, but I have definitely learned my lessons about what kind and how much stress I can handle. I have to make time to relax, take a bath, read a book, or watch a movie every so often, or I go absolutely insane. In my 30’s, I am easily giving up going out in exchange for going to bed early to read.

    What I can say about socialness is, eventually you reach a point where you stop feeling guilty about not going out and realize your limits, when you are staying out for other people, and when it just isn’t going to be fun for you anymore. What exactly is the point if you aren’t going to have fun?

  • Reply Harri @ TotallyMoney August 10, 2011 at 00:41

    Being in your twenties is pretty damn stressful. You’re expected to throw everything into clambering up the career ladder whilst struggling to make ends meet and sporting a model’s physique. In the middle of all of that, you’re meant to find the love of your life.

    Realistically you can’t balance it all. It’s about weighing up your priorities and working out what’s important.

  • Reply Claire-PhoenixAmbition August 10, 2011 at 01:11

    I can completely relate to this! Particularly the feeling guilty about not wanting a crazy-active social life…I’ve always thought that perhaps I was a bit odd, but you have just reassured me I’m not alone in this mindset and it’s ok to prefer me-time to stereotypical “fun time” (me-time IS fun to me!). Great post 🙂

  • Reply Emily Jane August 10, 2011 at 01:54

    It’s tough to balance everything, but I tend to give up on “chore” type stuff first when I’m feeling overwhelmed – even though I love to have a clean place, if I need some down time or to sleep in a bit on a Saturday morning, I definitely will!

  • Reply Kim August 10, 2011 at 03:00

    Downtime is definitely a huge thing for me, which is easier now that I have my own place as opposed to living with roommates, bf, or family. Just having that time to not have to talk to anyone or be concerned about keeping someone else entertained/happy/comfortable is key to my sanity.

    I also find cleaning and decluttering really relaxing. Even though when I’m busy, it’s the last thing I’d want to do, the end result always relaxes me. A clean and minimalistic environment makes me feel more at peace.

    the most effective way of dealing with stress for me is physical exercise, and not just a walk on the tredmill kind of thing. I’m talking about a semi-rigorous run for about half an hour. It clears my head, renews my perspectives and makes me more positive. Gotta love that runner’s high!

  • Reply Clare - Never Niche August 10, 2011 at 06:26

    This post hits home for me, deeply. When it gets to be too much, I unplug technology and read a book for a few hours with hot tea. It reminds me how much I enjoy quiet time and I don’t have to feel like I’m missing out on what other people are doing and talking about online constantly.

  • Reply Insomniac Lab Rat August 10, 2011 at 16:04

    I can completely relate! When things get to be too much, I just try to focus on getting one thing done at a time. Baby steps! Sometimes it doesn’t seem like the to-do list will ever go away, but I find that I’m less overwhelmed if I just focus on getting one task done.

  • Reply Revanche August 10, 2011 at 17:34

    I’m pretty much productive and social online but keep to myself a fair bit in person for balance. I very much prefer to have a good lot of alone time to recharge.

    And as busy and crazy as life is now, I have no idea how to add more to my life without absolutely losing it. 😛

  • Reply oilandgarlic August 11, 2011 at 09:21

    I think my non-negotiables have changed as I’ve gotten older. I was pretty sociable in my 20s and looking for love and friendships, as well as work. I guess I felt like I was striving a lot. Now that I’m older with kids, my focus is on kids and doing well at my current job. There’s less striving and more acceptance. It’s not that you find balance (ever) but just change priorities from year to year or even month to month, day to day.

  • Reply Two Degrees August 11, 2011 at 16:36

    Going out to my garden!

    As well, it is important to learn to say no and turn down socials that you don’t have the energy for. I felt guilty for saying no and then learned the hard way that I have to conserve my sanity for myself.

  • Reply Vera August 15, 2011 at 10:53

    I hate crowds… and I also love staying in and marathoning entire seasons of TV shows, or reading a book. It relaxes me like nothing else. Unfortunately this does not exactly help my social life and is one of the first things guys tell me in a sort of chiding manner. And I hate it.

    At one point I forced myself to be more outgoing, date more yadda yadda… but I was kind of miserable. I mean that’s not me, and it kind of gets on my nerves trying to explain to someone that “no, I’m not a Jehova’s Witness” I genuinely am not a party animal.

    Oh and the one person who is so well rounded that he can give his all in his personal and professional life. Well, if he gives a lecture on this topic, I’ll be there with bells an whistles. These days work is so hectic that sometimes I feel like all I do is work and eat and sleep. 🙁

  • Reply Kim@Eyesonthedollar December 30, 2012 at 16:14

    I am also one who enjoys downtime and I don’t mind time to myself. I have a very few good friends, but don’t mind that my social calendar is not full. I also used to not like early mornings, but now, with a small child, they are a favorite part of my day. It’s the only time no one needs anything from me. It’s funny how some things change as you get older and some don’t

  • Reply Pauline December 30, 2012 at 16:25

    I am a monster if I don’t get enough sleep! Too many people demanding things from me drain me too, and I just want some peace and quiet at least once a day. When life gets overwhelming I stopped everything I am doing and tackle the smallest things first, then gain momentum and go one by one.

  • Reply Vlad December 31, 2012 at 01:56

    I’m the photographer – the guy who took the shot at the top of the article. Just came here to say hi. Thanks for correctly using the image according to my chosen creative commons licence and linking back to my flickr page 🙂

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