“Don’t Tell Me to RELAX”

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde

It’s interesting how our perception of being a grown-up, when we’re young, means freedom. Freedom from our parents, their rules, their house, etc. We spend our entire youth trying to “grow-up,” just to realize while we have more money than we’ve ever had, we also have more responsibilities and that work rarely ever takes days off.

Be careful what you wish for…am I right!?!

What would be an interesting twist is if adults kept that same sense of freedom, and viewed their different life circumstances as more opportunities for self-care, rather than more opportunities to gain more opportunities (you follow me?).

We measure success not by how much peace we have, but by how much we have to show for it. We measure our lives in external variables: Cars, homes, appearance, and in the world of academia and research, publications.

I found myself struggling with this desire to be great at what I do while maintaining an internal sense of peace. It wasn’t because I don’t love what I do, but because I wasn’t finding time to enjoy where I am. My days were filled with “trying to get there,” instead of “look at where I’m at.” I never stopped to enjoy my accomplishments before moving to the next thing. I never gave myself that extra boost or an “You know you’re amazing right?” I just kept moving and I kept depleting my engine. Before I knew it I felt like I was running on fumes.

What hadn’t occurred to me, in looking towards my future, was taking care of myself in the present. With how fast paced our lives are in this era, I know I can’t be alone in this! But it’s not that easy to just switch-up your life and give-in to self-care. Your mind wants to keep going. It wants to keep moving and working. We’ve programmed it that way. It took me a while to be able to truly start saying “NO” – BIG GIRL CAPS – to projects, take breaks throughout my day, plan vacations after each semester (even if they’re mini, on my grad school budget), and make an effort to reconnect with the creative side of myself that I love so much. I had become so focused on one part of myself that other major parts of my personality hit a standstill.

But if there’s one thing I know for sure in life, it’s that we don’t get second chances to be who we were yesterday. We have to pay attention to who we are now and really make an effort to enjoy ourselves, our lives, our loved ones and friends while we still can. Pushing things off until tomorrow, or next week, next month, or year pushes things to a future we don’t control and can’t guarantee. You don’t have to drop your dreams or your work ethic to just take a moment for yourself.

If you’re having trouble even knowing where to start you are not alone! Take a look at these 12 Self-Care Tips for Busy People, by the Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEP).

While you may resonate with all of the above, or many, you may also resonate with none, or very few. Don’t give up though, self-care is not a one size fits all process, so keep putting yourself first and keep trying things, because we all deserve a little peace sometimes ☺️

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