LIFE: Do you Compartmentalize or Freely Flow?

Do you compartmentalize your days?

Feeling as if every chunk of time is clearly delineated?

I used to.

Every weeknight after dinner I underwent a mental switch that signaled my day was “over.” No more work, creating, chores, to-do list…  anything that required effort.

When the evening rolled around, I had earned the right to turn my brain and body into mush. I “needed” that decompression and check-out point.

I call this compartmentalizing my days, and have since seen the light. But let’s hang out in the darkness for a little bit, because “the light” remains aspirational (always).

What it looks like to compartmentalize:

  • Clear delineations between work, life, and play
  • Struggling to find and maintain a healthy balance amongst those 3 states
  • Using outside influences to intentionally transition states (alcohol, drugs, people)
  • Living within parameters and boundaries (self-induced or otherwise) – whether out of routine, frustration, depression, lack of direction or passion, or simply not knowing a better way

Does any of that sound familiar?

It took me a long time to realize that my complete shut down around 6 pm every weekday was out of pure survival. I had spent all day at a job I hated, I was exhausted, and the thought of doing anything other than tuning out and ending the evening on a mind-numbing note felt impossible.

Compartmentalizing meant that the life I wanted was seemingly out of grasp. I was keeping it out of reach because I couldn’t comprehend living any other way. I was defeated.

Transitioning from a compartmentalized life to one that seamlessly flows from dawn to dusk in a perpetual state of bliss and fulfillment may sound like a fairy tale. Perhaps you’ve only experienced this type of joy on vacation?

For so long I thought a life of freely flowing without boundaries would never be my reality. I only recently realized that it took a million minuscule steps to finally reach the front door of freedom, and I have cancer to thank for truly waking me up.

What it looks like to freely flow:

  • Developing a seamless and natural balance between work, life and play
  • Feeling firmly rooted in your passions and sense of purpose
  • Living with blurred lines of what constitutes work, life, and play – it’s all one in the same
  • Flowing through every minute, not wishing away the minutes, hours, or days

Sounds nice, right?

I don’t have a roadmap for getting from compartmentalized days to freely flowing ones, only that I had to acknowledge the difference between them and stop feeling defeated.

Once I stopped feeling defeated, I also stopped living on the sidelines of the various worlds I wanted to be a part of. I got in the game. I followed my curiosity, picked up forgotten hobbies and passions. I stopped telling myself I was too tired.

I chase every breadcrumb of happiness and I never stop searching for them. I am awake for every minute of my own life.

Now when 6 pm rolls around, I don’t see it as a stop sign. I am working to embody a perpetual state of flow, which is still a process. It’s a far cry from compartmentalization, and it’s so much more rewarding.

I’m curious how you all feel about this concept…

Compartmentalization or freely flowing?

Can there be any sort of in-between?




Betsy Brockett was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the age of 28, and continues to thrive despite the challenges that cancer has created in her life. Holding a degree in Art & Visual Technology from George Mason University, Betsy expresses herself through writing, photography, painting, pottery, and more. She is most often found cultivating, creating, practicing/teaching yoga, or simply enjoying the beauty of life.

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