Thanks to the title of this post and the above image you’re probably thinking WTF right about now but please do bear with me. If you’ve so much as glanced at a magazine or turned on the television over the past six months then you’ll know there’s been a hell of a lot of debate over the illusive “work/life balance.” How does one achieve this most coveted of states and indeed, is such a thing is even possible? Maintaining a successful career, family and some semblance of a social life without taking spa weeks on the regular or having a complete breakdown… does this exist? I’ve been thinking a fair bit about this conundrum recently. Partially because I read an awful lot of magazines, but also because of the many emails I received after my feature in Look Magazine a couple of months ago. The piece was entitled “I go from lectures to Louis Vuitton shoots”, a sentance I hasten to add was paraphrased, and presented me in the extremely flattering, if not necessarily accurate, light of student-slash-jet-set-uber-blogger. After it was published I received numerous lovely emails, many of which asked how I balance everything. The truth? Badly. I suck at the work/life/play balance. Case in point, last week. Many months of burning the candle at both ends and in the middle finally took its toll and I ended up not working on my thesis, charging around town to meetings or attending fabulous events but stuck in bed at my parents house with a mouth full of ulcers and a system full of antibiotics. Finally feeling sufficiently human to venture outside, I decided to take the dog for a walk and bumped into the postman a few minutes in. Once we’d both recovered from the embarrassment of my mother’s small, ridiculous looking Norfolk terrier attempting to chase him what struck me was how darned happy the fellow seemed. Was he pacing along, reading the “to do” list on his iPhone attempting to answer emails, reschedule appointments, tweet, Instagram and chase up invoices simultaneously? Of course not! And did he seem like the desperately sad, shell of a human I become every time I lose my phone or come down with a cold, have to take a few days out and subsequently get behind on the aforementioned to do list? Not a bit of it, the man was genuinely whistling! Ordinarily and to my shame, I might have felt superior to the jolly postman, perhaps even pitying him for being so far removed from fast paced, ambition fuelled city life. Admitting that no doubt doesn’t show me in the best light but what the hell, I’m sure many of you’ve experienced such thoughts too. On this occasion though, I wondered, did the postman have it right? Does the work hard, play hard, you only live once (#YOLO) so you’d better make it great mentality actually make us happy or just perpetually tired, stressed and dissatisfied?
I’m slightly playing devil’s advocate here because I’m a total subscriber the #YOLO mentality (yep, new phrase coined by your’s truly). I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be working in an industry I love and to get up each, ok most, mornings excited for what the day will bring. I completely and utterly adore the frenetic, not-stop, adrenaline-and-champagne fuelled fashion industry but that doesn’t change the fact that this fellow really made me stop and think. Would life be that bit better, calmer and just generally easier if those of us that strive for the impossibility of perfection and across the board achievement just, well, lived? Or in a metropolitan, digital driven world where we’re available on email (or countless social media platforms) at home, on holiday, in bed and professional competition appears to be at all all time high, is the very concept of contentment extinct? Perhaps the jolly postman can strike a work/life balance but would it ever work for me? And if I’m wondering this at the tender age of 22, what the HELL are people 10 years older and 100 times more successful feeling!? Once again, this post poses many more questions than answers. I want to know what you lot think…
Love Ella. X
Ps) I’m not about to quit the whole fashion malarky in favour of becoming a postman. Although it is tempting, I must admit… And his uniform was pretty chic.