The Need for Margin

Ever since I wrote my review of Juliet’s School of Possibilities last week, I’ve been focusing on choosing well. And for the most part, it’s been going okay. I’ve definitely been more intentional with my time, and as a result, I’ve gotten more done. I’ve felt less stressed about the amount of time I have—I’ve been learning to fit my tasks into the time available to me, rather than expecting the time to somehow stretch to accommodate the tasks.

And yet, it hasn’t quite been enough.

Let me give you some context: I’m a full-time college student in the last two months of a degree that requires me to write a couple thousand words in essays every week. I’m also a part-time paraeducator (or teacher’s aide, depending on where you’re from) with a commute that, while not terribly long, isn’t terribly short either.

I am also a homeowner, and while I’ve lowered my expectations for how much cooking and cleaning I’m able to do during this season of my life, there is a certain amount of work that has to happen to keep a house up and running. And on top of that, I’m involved in my church, and I try to spend time with friends at least a couple of times each month to avoid becoming isolated.

Do the math: that’s a lot.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have anxiety. I’ve experienced a certain level of anxiousness my whole life, and when my sister and I moved to the States last summer, the stress of the move and the suddenness of the transition almost pushed me over the edge.

I’ve been near my breaking point more than once over the past ten months—and it’s pushed me to grow more than I ever would have predicted a year ago.

I learned how to handle recurring panic attacks. I learned how to deal with overwhelm—not perfectly, but better than I had before.

I learned how to say no, to slow down the pace of my life.

I learned how to prepare for sorrow, to take one step at a time through the moments when I can’t see more than the next step.

I learned how to be okay with not being perfect—and I learned to change the way I think about failure.

When I look back over the last ten months, I can see how much I’ve grown, how far I’ve come. But the fact that I’ve grown does not mean that everything’s just fine now. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with failure and perfectionism and unrealistic expectations and overwhelm from time to time.

One of those times is right now.

Over the last few weeks, the pace of my life has increased. I’m in the last month of the school year at work and the last two months of my university degree. I’m gearing up for a summer packed full of time with family and friends, and I’m wrestling with all the unknowns that will come after college ends.

I’ve become increasingly aware that my life has very little margin right now, during a time when I probably need margin more than ever. And this morning, when I looked over all my commitments and my goals, I asked myself, “Where can I create some space in my life for the next two months?

The answer? This blog.

I love writing. It gives me clarity—it lets me express things that have been turning themselves over in my mind for days or sometimes weeks, and it gives me the chance to connect with people in a way I rarely do in regular social interactions.

But right now, I’m trying to do all the things. And, realistically, I can’t do it all. I can’t keep juggling all these balls and expect to keep them aloft. If I don’t let one or two things go for a season, I’m afraid I’m going to drop everything.

So this is me creating margin in my life: I’m taking a break from blogging. Not permanently, not indefinitely—just until I finish my degree two months from now. Once I’m on the other side of this incredibly busy season, I’ll have the space to return to writing and to give it more of my attention.

This month, though, I have no space to spare—and I desperately need some.

Maybe you’re going through something similar. You’re trying to do everything all at once, but instead you’re treading water, barely keeping your head afloat in a sea of projects and to-dos and unfinished goals. Maybe you wish you had the space to stop and breathe every now and then—or maybe you’re like me, afraid that if you keep trying to do all the things you’re going to let go of it all and watch it come crashing down around you.

If that’s you right now, I hear you. I see you. I’m there. And I want you to know that it’s okay to let some things go. It’s okay to not do it all. Saying no for a season doesn’t mean saying no forever. Choosing to take a break doesn’t mean you’re not committed.

We are always choosing. And we can’t choose everything.

I’ll be back two months from now. See you then.

Do you need to let go of something to create some margin in your life? Or do you have some tips for those of us who do? Please let me know in the comments, or send me an email at I’d love to hear from you!

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