A few years ago, I was lamenting my perpetual singledom, when a friend asked me, “But do you think you have space for love, or a relationship in your life?” The answer was – and arguably still is – no.
I like being busy and hate being idle. I’ve always been this way. At the time, I was studying my master’s, acting as editor-in-chief of a student newspaper, running a freelance illustration business, and tutoring a journalism course at my university. I didn’t have time for a relationship. I was goal-oriented, and a relationship didn’t form part of that goal.
Fast forward to today. My life is just as full, if not fuller. I work a full-time job as a graphic designer, my freelance illustration business is still steaming ahead, I run a few half marathons a year, and I recently started writing for The Tempest.
I’m busy. Like, really busy. Weird flex, right?
Am I really too busy for love?
I love being busy. But I also love love, and I wish I could find a balance between the two. After my friend suggested I didn’t have space in my life for love, I bought a double bed. I thought maybe if I had the physical space for a relationship, I’d make space in my life for one.
We are always able to make time for our priorities.
But physical space doesn’t translate into what I think of as ‘life-space’. Life space is about priorities. We are always able to make time for the things we deem important. We are always able to make time for our priorities. And I didn’t know if making space for love was my priority.
When my friend suggested I didn’t have space in my life for a relationship, my priority was my university degree. Now, my priority is my career.
I’m currently at a point where I need to diversify my priorities. Striking a work-life balance can be tricky, and is something I need to work on. As somebody with a tendency for burnout, I’m always being told to take it easy, to find a balance between work and play.
I’m on a bit of a mission to find a work-life balance that will allow me to make space in my life for a relationship.
I’m on a bit of a mission to find a work-life balance that will allow me to make space in my life for a relationship. (Although there’s kinda this global pandemic going on that’s made it a bit weird and tricky).
Here are four things I’ve tried, and whether they’ve been personal victories or failures:
1. I tried taking dating apps more seriously
I’m notoriously bad at replying to men on dating apps. In fact, my dating app bio is home to the words, “Bad at writing captivating bios, worse at texting strangers. But also very alone, so maybe I’ll learn.”
I decided to be more conscientious about replying on dating apps, but I find it difficult to find the time and effort to converse with people who I don’t care for. This helped me learn that in order for me to make space in my life for somebody, I need more of a connection than a superficial right-swipe.
2. I created some work-life boundaries
I made some work-life rules for myself which – admittedly – worked better before we all started living in perpetual quarantine. One rule that I’ve kept up is that I’m no longer allowed to use my laptop in bed. My work can only happen at my desk, and my bed is exclusively a place of rest. Creating small boundaries like this one work as small steps towards making more space for things that are not work. My hope is that by making more of this kind of space, I’ll also make space for love.
3. I’m learning to say “no”
I developed a habit of saying yes to every bit of work that comes my way. This has meant that I often find myself drowning in work.
I’m trying to break this habit, and learning to say “no” to work that doesn’t serve me. As a freelancer, you have as much right to be picky with what work you take on, as a client has to be picky when it comes to who they hire. A good exercise in this process was to make a list of work that makes me happy, and work I find tedious. I only take on the tedious work if I have the time. Only doing work I love means that I have more time for the work I love, and the people I love.
4. I’m also making more time for the people I love platonically
I enjoy making people feel loved, but sometimes I find myself prioritizing my work over my family and friends. Finding a work-life balance is also about making sure the people I care about know that I care about them. Making life-space for my loved ones used to mean making time to see them face-to-face over a coffee. In quarantine, it means making time for video calls, sending them memes, and reminding them that they’re doing okay. By making space for my loved ones, I’m slowly making more space for romance. Or at least, I hope I’m doing that!
I’m learning that love is a priority of mine. So, making time for love should be a priority of mine, too.