Article Date: 10/1/2011

In Search of Balance
reflections
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

In Search of Balance

It's not just about scheduling, it's also about personal self-fulfillment.

Jennifer Jabaley, O.D., Blue Ridge, GA.

In physiology, balance refers to your center of gravity and the ability to remain stable with change of body position. In optometry, we use the term balance to reference a spectacle lens for an amblyopic eye that matches the power of the functional eye in an effort to maximize physical equality of the lenses. Finally, many of us define balance as making enough time for everything that comprises our lives.

So why, so many people asked me, when life was already so full—a bustling optometry career and two young children—why add more to the equation? Why throw off your center of gravity? Why include one more thing to try and give equal time to? In other words, why the heck did I decide to add writing teen novels* to my already stuffed list of things to do?

My definition

What I've come to realize is that for me, balance is not so much about the effort to make every aspect of my life of equal value, like those balanced spectacle lenses, but rather to achieve self-fulfillment.

I love optometry. I love that it combines both an analytical and technical field with the socialization of patient interaction. I love giving the gift of sight when prescribing a child their first pair of spectacles. I love being involved in a respected healthcare profession that also combines the flair of fashion and retail. However, at the end of the day, I also craved creativity. I needed to craft something from nothing. I needed to inspire myself and entertain others in order to feel whole.

Filling the void

In searching for a way to fill that void, I kept returning to my love of books. And so I began to write. I didn't change my work schedule, and I didn't change my involvement with the family. I knew if I wanted to add another commitment and make it work, I couldn't deplete something that already fulfilled me. I'd have to find other avenues. So I watched less TV. I woke up an hour earlier than usual. I took away from things that never really gave back.

After my first teen novel was published and I was contracted to write a second, a funny thing happened. People started asking why I was still practicing optometry. Again, it all came back to that word, balance. Yes, now I have a lot more responsibilities with my writing (e.g. deadlines and promotion). But I sought this creative outlet to complement optometry—not replace it.

Writing is solitary, optometry provides social interaction. Success in writing is unpredictable, optometry offers stability. Crafting a novel has no rules, optometry offers guidelines and structure. Optometry can become monotonous, writing offers variety. Optometry is limited to time and place, but writing can be done on a flexible schedule. Together these two facets of my life combined with my family, provide a complete picture of fulfillment for me.

There's no perfect formula for balance in life. It's not as easy as matching one side of a spectacle prescription to the other. But for me, balance means having success stories from many different aspects of my life. Only when I nurtured and cared for all of these things did true balance come to me. OM

*Dr. Jabaley has written the teen novels Crush Control and Lipstick Apology for Razorbill/Penguin Young Readers.


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: October 2011