I spend a lot of time daydreaming about my perfect life. In my perfect life, I’m saving money, I feel satisfied in my job, we eat home-cooked meals every night, the dogs get long walks twice a day. In my perfect life, I have a healthy work-life balance and time for my hobbies. I don’t have days where I feel burnt out and watch X-Files on my couch all day instead of blogging and planning and cleaning and accomplishing. I am both a domestic goddess and a productive worker. I always have a clear vision of and direction in my life.
But perfection isn’t what my life looks like at all. There isn’t money leftover after the bills are paid, I can’t stand my job, I’m lucky if we cook twice a week, and sometimes a walk means we sprint around the block once before the sun comes up. My work-life balance is okay, but I still feel too tired to pursue hobbies some days, and hey, X-files is pretty good stuff. My house is never as neat as I want it to be, especially with the dogs shredding stuffed toys all over the carpet all the time. My vision gets cloudy, and I lose direction, meander a bit, and then find it again.
I try to remember how beautifully human imperfection makes me. If my desire as a person with bipolar disorder is to live a “normal” life with healthy emotions, being imperfect, without damaging mood shifts, is about as normal as it gets.
“This is what your twenties are for,” all the sagely adults in my life keep telling me, and then I remember that I’m an adult too, and I was around when they were going through their twenties, when we were in just-okay apartments and our dinner choices at night were ramen or Spaghettios. We did the best we could with what we had, and that’s what I’m doing now. “It doesn’t last forever. Life always throws you curve balls,” they say, “but you won’t always struggle the way you are now.”
I look around at all the things I am doing: working to change my job situation so I can be happier and financially stable, paying the bills, even if it means there’s nothing leftover, learning to control my anxiety, and more importantly, being comfortable with relinquishing control sometimes. “I feel like I’m losing sight of other big things,” I told Big Bee, after I’d been powering through things I need to do to change my work life for four days. “I feel like I’m losing focus on the wedding and shopping for a car.”
“But I’m not,” he said. “This is what I mean when I say I’ve got your back. We divvy up important things, and that’s okay.”
It’s still hard for me to let go of the feeling that I need to be on top of everything all the time. It’s hard for me to accept that no one is being productive 24 hours a day, so I don’t have to be either. I am growing more comfortable, however, with the fact that life–mine and everyone else’s–is a work in progress.