The Feeling When by Nikhil Taneja: The secret to finding balance

The truth is, life is sometimes up, sometimes down, and only occasionally stable. What do you to find your own sense of balance?
On any given day adults fluctuate between feeling like they’re on top of their game and feeling like they’re just keeping their heads above water (Hexcode)
On any given day adults fluctuate between feeling like they’re on top of their game and feeling like they’re just keeping their heads above water (Hexcode)
Updated on May 06, 2022 10:25 PM IST
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ByNikhil Taneja

During a recent Q&A session with a university, a 19-year-old student asked me a trending question:

“What is the secret to finding balance in life?”

“Why do you think there’s a secret to it?” I asked.

Pat came the reply. “Because most successful people are able to find that balance and that’s what makes them successful... right?”

Umm…

Adulting anxiety

There has always been this assumption that adults have their sh*t together. That’s technically a fair thing to assume, given that it is the de facto understanding of what constitutes an ‘adult’. And an adult who seems to have a glamorous professional designation and a glowing social media presence must, for all practical purposes, easily be balancing their home, work, relationships, friendships, social media, dreams, aspirations, fitness, sleep, money, and Netflix watchlists like other pro-adults, haina?

Umm…

Okay, to be fair, when I was 19 (or for that matter, 29), I used to believe this too. I spent my 20s attempting to find this mythical ‘balance’, failing each time, blaming myself, and ultimately ruining my mental health because I had, among other things, taken The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari too seriously, even though I didn’t have a Ferrari to sell (that should have been the first clue). Today, young folks feel the same pressure to be the wisest version of themselves in the quickest possible time frame because there are YouTubers, Instagrammers and spiritual gurus who promise this balance too; while some are genuinely helpful, most are only trying to, well, improve their own bank balance.

But dear 19-year-olds, in my 30s, and after battling (and then befriending) anxiety, here’s a secret I can tell you that they didn’t tell me when I was growing up: No one has it together, no matter how old you get! The truth is that being an adult is a struggle every single day, just like being a teenager was. The only difference is that there is added pressure to prove your adult credentials, so we all pretend that everything is fine, even when (and especially when) it isn’t.

Managing like a boss (or not)

It’s not that there aren’t good phases where everything falls in place together like a dream for just a little while; it’s that they are usually followed by phases where everything is a dumpster fire amidst a global water crisis. In that sense, being an adult is very much like living through a pandemic. You can be on top of it all but then there’ll be a wave that will ruin everything, and then you pick up the pieces of what’s left, and you… manage.

And once you are aware that this is what adult life is, it becomes easier to get up every day and… manage. Some days, you manage like a boss and feel extremely adult, and other days, you fall apart. But on those days, no matter what other adults tell you, you are allowed to cry, you are allowed to slow down, you are allowed to take a deep breath, and you are allowed to not have it all together, until, for just a little while, you do.

And when you do, it’s the closest thing you get to ‘balance’. Those moments make adulthood worth it.

Nikhil Taneja is a writer, producer, storyteller, public speaker, feeler of feelings, men’s mental health advocate and co-founder of Yuvaa

That Feeling When is a fortnightly column that offers a relatable take on mental health and emotional well-being.

From HT Brunch, May 7, 2022

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Thursday, June 30, 2022