budget living happiness

Your Balance Story: The Frugal Life in Beautiful Balance

This post is part of the reader-submitted Your Balance Story series.  This series showcases stories by readers where they have achieved balance in their lives.  If you’d like to submit a story, please click here.  This post comes from Shannyn at Frugal Beautiful.

your balance story

Do you ever feel like you’re doing what you “should” but not what you love? Do you ever think you’re happy, or even tell yourself you are, but keep thinking, “this isn’t the life I ordered”?

It’s easy to follow what’s prescribed to us without thinking. Go to school, get a job, get married, and — voilà! — we should be happy! We take cues from everyone else, assuming that they are truly happy and we are not, so we follow their lead. But even when we achieve what thought we should, why aren’t we really content in our own skin?

For the first time in my life, I’m happy — truly, utterly and authentically blissful, content, confident and, yes, a bit more balanced. For years, I did everything I thought I should do but still wasn’t fulfilled. I had to learn the hard way to discover my own unique, hard-won balance and discover what it meant to truly be “me.”

My Three Steps to Balance:

  • Make a big mistake (or realize something’s amiss).
  • Get real with your authentic you & search for balance.
  • Fight like heck to get it! Because your bliss deserves a fighting chance.

    How do I know this?

    A year ago, I wanted to be an educator and writer, I assumed the only way to do that was to earn the right to write by getting a Ph.D. and thus become a “true” educator. I made the BIG MISTAKE of assuming I needed the outward verification and certification of an institution to have a voice, to write, to express myself. I didn’t have the confidence to do it on my own, so I hid behind the fear of failure and thought a degree from a big name university would not only validate my writing, but validate me as a human being.

    While I struggled to convince myself that there was nothing shallow or hollow about my choices and lie that my big mistake was legitimate, since “everyone else did it this way,” I started FrugalBeautiful.com as a side project. That silly little blog I had devoted my free time to lit a fire in my soul and completely shook me to my core. Getting such satisfaction from a blog and not from my academic research, flew in the face of what “real” writing was in the academy. I was in love with this unprofessional, amateurish little hobby blog and it scared the heck out of me! Why couldn’t I just be happy doing things the traditional way? I learned that I had to FIGHT LIKE HECK to forgive myself for loving what I did and FIGHT to do it regularly — to write, to explore, and to unabashedly be ME.

    At that point, I had to do the toughest thing anyone ever has to do:


    Here’s a tip: You know you’re onto what’s “truly you,” when you feel a great resistance towards it. It excites you and makes you ill simultaneously because you know it goes against the grain, but it feels so undeniably right inside. If you’re terrified and excited at the same time? That’s how you know.

    For me, finding balance was a process that started with my writing. Writing caused me to be real with myself and clear out the mental clutter that had been limiting my thinking for too long. It led to things I never thought it would — exercise, eating healthier, adopting a dog (simply because it made me happy), spending smarter and pursuing new friendships. It also made me clear out what wasn’t working — friendships that made me insecure, my penchant for sugary snack foods, clothes that didn’t make me feel gorgeous and of course- I still try and tackle impulse shopping.

    And that’s where I’m at today, I’m still making big mistakes, I’m still asking questions and every day I open up the laptop, I fight like heck to get my best life. But this balance? This happiness? This life? It’s mine and I have learned to forgive myself that it didn’t look like I thought it would. Chances are, you don’t want to conform to someone else’s idea of ‘balance’ either.

    When was the last time you forgave yourself for your silly little quirks, your weird dreams, your big goals and your unrealistic expectations and struck out on your own to find your unique balance? When was the last time you celebrated what is uniquely YOU and utilized it to your advantage?

    For you, finding balance might mean dedicating your time to activities that fill you up and energize you, while learning to better refuse any projects or activities that drain you. It may mean dedicating yourself to healthy eating, or finally tackling your credit card debt. It could be switching jobs or simply sitting down to journal about your feelings.

    If its been awhile since you embraced your true self and prioritized what matters most, start right now. You deserve it, and today, you strike out on a new path towards greater balance.

    Shannyn blogs at FrugalBeautiful.com, where her goal is to create meaningful content for women who want more in life than what’s put on a high interest credit card.


    • Hey Shannyn!

      I really enjoyed your post – you are very right when you say that taking “life cues” from everyone around you may not work. It’s so important to find what energizes and excites us – life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy! My intern is entering her senior year of college, and she’s trying to figure out what she wants to do after. I’m going to pass this post onto her, I think she’ll find it useful!

      Way to go and good luck!

      • Thank you so much Alysa! If I can help anyone else from making my mistakes, especially college students who might be feeling the pressure like I did, that’s great news for me! Thanks for sharing and I hope to connect with you more on Twitter and in the blogosphere!

    • Wow, I could totally relate to Shannyn. She has an amazing story. I can totally relate to her in many ways.

      Deciding whether to get a college degree is a norm that I’ve struggled with. Both of my parents are college graduates, and growing up I never saw college as a goal. I like to learn and I’m not rejecting knowledge, life long learning, or curiosity. I also love to travel and having new life experiences. I do however reject the fact that everyone needs to go even when their heart is not in it, just because society says people should.

      Growing up I knew that I wanted to do have a creative career, however I never saw college as the only place to do that. Currently I’m getting my associate degree in general studies and I have a 3.6 GPA at my CC right now, but my heart is just not set in transferring for a bachelor’s degree. I did go to CC to get a taste of college and I’m about 3 classes from getting my degree. I’m happy to have been exposed to higher ed but I honestly have no desire to go any further.

      I’m not rejecting education and I know that many people have benefited from college. Sometimes people tend to really take it personally when you tell them that college isn’t for you. It’s hard to go against certain norms but if that’s where you find happiness then people need to do that for themselves. 🙂

      • Jaime, thanks for your kind words about my story! I may be in graduate school, but am dead-set against college being the “norm,” when I firmly believe it shouldn’t be the only form of education/career building that we honor, since some people find their path and their amazing talents elsewhere. When people tell me they’re in school because they “have” to, I cringe! College is not right for everyone, and I think too many kids are pressured into going because they think it’s the only way to learn, or for their skills to be given weight and respect, but some of the most respected entrepreneurs, artists and personalities never went to college, and in fact, college may have stifled their talents!

        Go if you want to go, and progress forward in the faith that you are doing what’s right for you! When everyone ELSE racks up college debt for a degree they didn’t even want (ahem, now that’s become me!) know you made the smart move by being authentic and focusing on YOUR goals, not anybody else’s!

    • I love this post! It makes me feel a whole lot better about not knowing exactly what I want in life. I’ve jumped around from faculty to faculty trying to figure out what degree interests me if any. I think that being afraid and excited to do something is when it is truly the right thing to do. Fear plays such a huge part in so many of our lives, and I think this is due to fear of failure. I love this quote “Fight like heck to get it! ” so many of us give up way to easily, and it’s usually the things that we have to fight for the most that are the most worthwhile! Keep writing and keep dreaming big!
      – Janine

      • Janine, thank you! I know you’ll find what’s right for you- don’t rush it, but keep focused on the goal of finding what’s “right,” and feels genuine to you, whatever that means for you personally! I’d agree, fear is a huge part of the equation in how we live our lives, but I’ve learned that failure is usually an essential step to success. It doesn’t mean we’ll always fail, but accepting it as a possibility gives it so much less power from keeping us from that first try! Thanks for posting! 🙂

    • Great post Shannyn! I’m struggling to find balance in a lot of areas in my life right now – career, blogging, healthy living…oh and I’m getting married in 2 months and we’re planning to move across the country as soon as we can afterward! It’s nice to read this and know that other people have gone through the same struggles and that the “traditional” route doesn’t work for everyone. Fear has held me to what’s traditional so far but I’m starting to break free from that and find what works for me.

      • Jess, congrats on your upcoming nuptials and best of luck with the cross country move, I know it’s a lot to take on, but it’s a whole ‘lotta progress in a short amount of time, so you just supercharged your year! You will find balance once the dust settles a little and you’ll find that your intuition was right and you’re going to forge your own path! Best of luck to you and keep in touch! 🙂

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