We had the good fortune of connecting with Valeska Cosci and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Valeska, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
If there were ever a time that the topic of work life balance was thrusted to the forefront, 2020 was it! 2020, the year of a once in a century pandemic. The year where work life balance took on a whole new level of importance. Over the years and especially during the pandemic, my vision of work life balance has changed.
As you can imagine, the pandemic has made many people, particularly women rethink their roles. Not only do we have to navigate health and safety concerns, many of us have had to adapt to sudden changes in our work environments all while parenting and educating our children from home. Depending on the circumstances, some of us have had to make the very difficult decision of leaving the work force to maintain familial and household demands.
For years, I struggled with the concept of work life balance. The pandemic not only heightened my awareness of this issue but also challenged the problematic conceptualization that there is such a thing as work life balance.
As a young professional I worked tirelessly, convinced that my worth was tied to long hours, thinking that I was a better person for working myself to exhaustion. As a consequence of that mindset, I found myself tired, unhappy and disconnecting from other important areas and relationships in my life. It was at that point that I knew it was time to re-evaluate my relationship with productivity and how it impacted my self-worth and what I valued. The realization was setting in that my personal and work life were out of balance.
As a daughter of immigrants who worked tirelessly towards a better a future, I grew up with a strong work ethic and the mindset of believing that I should work hard, and be grateful for my job no matter how difficult or dissatisfied I was. Achievements were prioritized over passion for a job; not pursuing your dreams in order to be practical was expected. Growing up in a hierarchical family where I learned almost from infancy that my opinion often didn’t matter, it made it extremely difficult to disagree with a supervisor or a superior. Further, having been raised in an environment that praised social perception and not to talk about personal struggles in the work place, only added to shame and self-blame for working in a dissatisfying work environment. After graduating college, I landed that new job, and began to understand that working in overly competitive and challenging work environments didn’t sit well with me personally and professionally. That mindset that I had carried since childhood didn’t serve me well when trying to create boundaries, resting when needed, when it came time to advocating for myself or negotiating a better salary. I was so focused on producing and working beyond my capacity that I lost sight of what mattered to me.
In life, there is rarely equal balance to the many hats we wear, i.e. employee, employer, parent, son or daughter, spouse, significant other, partner, friend and sibling. Between life’s ebbs and flows, demands that take up more of our time is a necessary part of human life. I’ve learned that what needed to happen to better serve my version of balance was identify what was priority in my life and create boundaries around that. If I didn’t want to work 24/7, then I needed to limit myself and hold myself accountable to not over work and find joy in other areas of my life. By implementing boundaries and keeping myself accountable, I was able to live my life according to my values and ultimately not neglect myself or other important areas in my life.
Although work-life balance can lately seem like a buzz word, trying to make it seem that there was a balance was just not possible for me and starting to sound more like a myth. Ultimately what worked for me and what may work for others would be to examine the areas of your life or parts of yourself that may need more attention. Aligning with values and priorities made a world of difference in my life and adjusting my expectations that things can temporarily be out of balance is Ok. Many of us have been through difficult and demanding times, but remembering our prior successes and strengths during those difficult times is proof that we can manage with what comes our way.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the owner of my private practice and am a Bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over twenty years of mental health experience serving individuals and families. As an experienced therapist, I enjoy working with BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) and persons coping with anxiety, depression and life transitions. I work through a trauma and social justice lens; my specialties are working with immigrants, children of immigrants, cultural issues and trauma, managing anxiety and depression in this fast-paced culture. Being a relatable, down to earth therapist has allowed my clients to feel at ease and be their authentic, vulnerable selves in my presence. Clients know I don’t have a magic wand, but I do provide a space for them to be themselves, provide the necessary tools they need, and uplift them to reach their goals. I am honored to bear witness to their stories and genuinely care for their mental wellness. What sets me apart: empathy and social awareness of how our environment, institutional, political and structural systems can impact a person’s well-being and mental health. I have intellectual curiosity and excellent communication skills. And I feel that I have a social responsibility to heal those who may not have the means; advocating for fair access to mental health resources, eliminating discrimination in the field, and being a champion for mental health and wellness.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
You can’t come to Los Angeles without eating at a great restaurant and checking out Los Angeles main stays with great company. One restaurant I’ve enjoyed with friends is Charcoal Venice. It definitely has a laid back vibe and delicious family style meals I’ve enjoyed with friends. A visit would be incomplete without taking my friend to our beaches such as Santa Monica Pier with its street performers, amusement park rides and the beach right in front of you. For a quieter, less busy beach, Zuma or Malibu are favorites, while hitting up some restaurants along the way for cocktails and appetizers. Hiking up the Griffith Observatory and enjoying a picnic on their grounds surrounded by mountains and great views is a must.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to my husband who has been my biggest supporter, who encouraged me to open a private practice years ago when I was ambivalent and didn’t think I was ready. He could see that I was ready and that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit for all of my gifts that I bring to the therapy room. With his love, encouragement and support I’ve been able to persevere to focus on my passion for mental health advocacy and empowerment.