Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Jill Bryan had to say…

No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian

Age: 43
Where I live:
 Gilbert, AZ
Job: Administrative Assistant by day, Stand-Up Comedian by night
Ages/genders of kids: 11-year-old daughter, 13-year-old son, 24-year-old stepdaughter, 25-year-old stepson

Jill BryanIs the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
My day job is pretty much the same, except now I am able to do it from home. I started doing comedy when my kids were 3 and 5, so there was a lot of “Can I take this gig, do I have someone to watch the kids?” I needed to do something creative or I was going to fall asleep at my own boringness… that’s why I started doing stand-up.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I don’t think you can truly have it all. I think you can do a damn good job of making an effort, but in reality… if you have a job, a creative outlet, a hobby, friends, a relationship, kids, and a dog, something or someone is going to get neglected. You can have little BITS of everything, but not 100% of everything, and that’s okay. Just pick the things that matter the most and focus on those.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Finding the energy for it all. I’m a great planner and a very good organizer, which is why I make a good administrative assistant. But finding the motivation to actually go to the gym for a workout, grocery shop for the dinner I decided to cook, wash the clothes I need to wear to my show, and anything else that requires leaving the house, is difficult.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Limiting the number of activities I need to accomplish each day so I don’t get overwhelmed. Instead of 3 free days and 1 day of nonstop errands, I will plan 2 free days and 2 days of fewer errands. It makes getting things done seem less daunting.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Don’t worry about what your neighbor’s doing unless you plan on becoming your neighbor. Worry about yourself and everything will fall into place.”
From your mother?
 My mother is a superwoman who can literally do all things, and do them well. I aspire to do as much as I can to be like her, but I also try not to beat myself up for not having the same drive she possesses. The best thing she ever told me was, “I didn’t raise a helpless woman. Figure it out.”
From your son? 
Every time I take a picture of my kids I try to remember that in one year, this photo will make them will seem so young. Relish every moment. It goes by far too quickly.

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Watching Law & Order: SVU. It’s a bit of an addiction. But I would also wax my nose hair and do a gel manicure on myself during that time. Yeah… I said wax my nose hair. Things happen as you age. I’ve accepted it.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
You know that campaign where they talk to kids who are struggling with their identity, and they keep saying, “IT GETS BETTER”? I would tell 20-year-old Jill to appreciate the cute body she had, because as you age and have kids, “IT GETS WORSE!! IT GETS SO MUCH WORSE!!” Ugh, my thighs.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
I hope that I will know that I have raised my kids to be people that other people love to be around. And that week’s winning lottery numbers.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Making lunches. I LOATHE making lunches. Every day, it’s the same PB&J sandwich for my son and then I have to get creative for my daughter because she doesn’t like sandwiches. Pasta salad? Chicken fingers? And then the side snacks… what will they eat today? What will they decide they no longer enjoy? Do I have drinks? Do they like this flavor of drink? Is there something healthy that resembles fruit that I can toss in there? Does pudding count as something healthy? It’s always a gamble. Bleah.

Whose job do you wish you had?
Is there a career that involves nothing but holding sleeping babies and snuggling puppies all day? Because I would like that job.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
The President of the United States. You will always have roughly 50% of the people in America against you. That CANNOT feel good.

Favorite books?
True crime novels. Especially the ones with crime scene photos. If anyone looked into my library checkout history, they would be very disturbed.

What are you reading right now?
Right now I am reading the back of this bag of cheddar popcorn to see how many calories it has. But I’ve got “Everything I Never Wanted To Be” on my nightstand. It’s a great book by a friend of mine, Dina Kucera, and it is fantastic.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Online shopping.
Food? Lo-carb Monster energy drinks.
Website? Facebook, hands down.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Usually around 9, unless I have a show. Then it’s about 6 because I find it hard to sleep past 8 am. I used to sleep like a champion! I could laze in bed until 2 pm before I’d even think about getting up. Now, even though I may be exhausted, I am compelled to get up even if I don’t have anything to do. Getting old is the pits.

What do you read every morning?
Emails first. Then Facebook updates. I read every notification first, then move on to the timeline. I will read and read until I recognize where I left off the night before when I fell asleep. Then I can start my day. I actually set my alarm 45 minutes early to get all of this in before I need to start getting ready. I may need psychiatric help.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: can make a real career in the comedy industry.
I wish I: could afford a tummy tuck.
My kids: make me smile like no one else can.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“I would rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” I don’t know who said that, but it is EXACTLY me.     

Anything else you’d like to add?
You’re never too old to start a new career. I started doing comedy 8 years ago, and have had more fun and personal growth during these last 8 years than in all of my first 36.

Jill Bryan and her converse collectionAbout Jill
This married mother of two has always had an appreciation for performing and making people laugh, but didn’t discover her true calling of stand-up comedy until July of 2006. Since then, she’s worked with Jimmy Fallon, Norm Macdonald, Jeffrey Ross, Robert Schimmel and other great comedians at Stand-Up Live, the Improv clubs, The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, and other respected venues around the country. Jill was the only female in The Comedy Squadron, a group of five very funny comedians who perform for the U.S. military. In the spring of 2013, the group traveled to Germany, Belgium, and England to provide some much-needed comedic relief and help boost morale at 8 different military bases. It was the experience of a lifetime that Jill cherishes as her greatest comedic accomplishment to date. Jill’s next scheduled set of military visits is a Mediterranean tour of Italy, Greece, and Turkey with The Comedy Battalion, this July. Every Tuesday night you can catch Jill hosting her own comedy show at Dos Gringos, a sports bar in Tempe, AZ, where the comedy is mediocre and the food is Mexican. Plus, you can now hear Jill on the radio as the brains and voice behind the weekly segment, “What A Mouth” on the syndicated, “Lu Valentino Show.” Tune in to i100rocks every Friday at 6:20pm PST to hear Jill’s opinions on what’s happening in entertainment, sports and her living room. If it’s annoying her, she wants you to know about it.

Find more about Jill here:
Twitter: @jillbryan

Facebook: ComedianJillBryan
Instagram: @jillypi

Please share your own tips on balance and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT.

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