Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Challenge... of the "me first" variety

(photo credit to: amazon)

I think this week I learned a lesson on life that has been long in the making... a lesson that has left me solidified that time for myself (or myself in general) should be prioritized.

I have this perpetual fear of being viewed as lazy. So I try as hard as I can to be in constant motion. Literally from 7am (sometimes 8am) until about 1am - 2am I am doing something that is non-negotiable. I do try to squeeze an hour power nap in there, but most of my day is spent driving, at school, at work (on my feet), or doing work that resulted from one of the aforementioned things. I try to start my morning with a half hour walk, but lately that's not even been happening.

I should note that I am not doing it for financial reasons, it is purely out of this drive to be constantly going.  Bottom line? This is NOT healthy, especially since it means I work every day of the week.

I was planning on going into work earlier this week and telling them that I needed one day off each week, however, the same day I was set to do that, I spoke to my father on the 15 minute break we take during my Gender Across Culture class -- he told me that that's what it means to be an adult. Making sacrifices, sucking it up, and moving on. You're capable of doing it, so do it. I thought about it... and he was right that I am capable of doing it... I did it in high school (perhaps to a larger degree in fact), so I can do it now...

I didn't broach the topic at work.

But after I emailed my therapist to indefinitely cancel my appointments (I won't even have that nap-time option available to me come June 16th due to an additional three hours of class each day) it dawned on me that what my father told me could very well be wrong.

Being an adult does not mean making sacrifices and sucking it up, though it can involve those things... It does however mean taking care of yourself - be it by yourself or through knowing when to ask for help when you need it (and of course consequently asking for it). Just because you are capable of doing it, doesn't mean you should either. I was capable of doing a similar thing in high school, but should I have? Absolutely not. I wound up taking the living out of my life. That's not okay.

I'm not saying parents are wrong, I am however saying that parents, like anyone else, make mistakes. Like yourself,  they weren't given a manual of life. They don't know everything... they know what they think worked for them. There's the thing though. You are not your parent or guardian. You are, well, you're you.

Just as you are you. I am myself.. and I am my own expert. If my body is telling me something needs to give, I shouldn't allow my mind to be persuaded that I am wrong. That my body is wrong. My body knows what it needs and since it is my body and I am listening to it (truly listening to it) it can be ascertained that it is correct. And it is correct that I need a break... and no that does not mean I am lazy, it means I'm not a superhero.. that I am human. and that is okay.

As a challenge to myself, until I can straighten out this work situation,  I am going to try to incorporate "me" time into my weekly routine on the days I do have some spare time in the morning - those days where I don't have school in the morning, rather just work at night.

I am going to finally finish that green canopy I've been working on off and on. I'm going to take nice rambling walks. I'm going to relax and sit with myself.

I'm going to take a detour from my planned course and put myself first.

as a challenge to yourself, what can you do for yourself this week or each day? How can you make time for you?

(I credit the term "me first" to Kendra from Voice in Recovery)


to continue my random self-discovery q/a :

A picture of my night:

 My Thursday night was spent at Anthropologie working. The above was our last window display -- it's a dress made of paper and dropcloth and of course thousands of clothespins that were individually placed/positioned on molded chicken wire -- the clothespin part has since migrated to the board you see behind the cash/wrap. They're in the process of taking the current one down (a wall made entirely of wine corks as part of the "Anthropologie Goes Green" theme), otherwise I would've put up a pic of that


  1. there's a very big difference between being lazy and taking a little break. Rosie Molinary's 'it's never about you' post sums it up quite nicely - that it is very likely your dad's comment was more about him than you (and don't get me wrong - I'm not parent-bashing...I am a parent and it's an endlessly difficult job without strangers on the internet judging you :) - but perhaps his comment was more along the lines of 'people will think I raised you to be idle', 'I worked this hard when I was in college so everyone else should too'. But life is not about living up to anyone else's expectations - and if you burn out and drop out, that won't do you any good either.
    A little bit of down-time is not a crime!

  2. I wholly agree with you PJ! Parents are not always right, like anyone. I think it is just so embedded into us that they are and that they're perfect in a way that it's hard to separate things sometimes.

    I absolutely love my father and sometimes it breaks me a little bit to feel like I'm disappointing him, but I've been learning over the past year that it can break me more if I don't do the thing that I thought would be disappointing -- and also (probably more importantly) that that feeling of disappointment is starting to fade every time I factor in my own beliefs and myself.

    I should be the biggest factor I give consideration to for the most part and I'm fully working on that --- that's why I am truly going to try to give myself "me time" this week regardless of what's going on in the world around me.

  3. in recovery ive learned how important 'me' time is... i guess that discovery led to my being able to move up the coast, like i wrote in my post below, whereas before if i wasnt on the go 24/7 and socialising like mad when i wasnt working then i was a failure in my own mind...

  4. I love this post!

    In February, I took a second job, even though I was making ends meet on one (because when do you turn down work?). I was working 7 days a week (because more hours is always better) and eventually, although I hadn't yet hit burn-out, ("I CAN do this; therefore I SHOULD") I knew that I was not really taking care of myself anymore. I decided I needed to cut my hours at the first job, restoring my 5-day week. It took me another 2 or 3 weeks to actually do this, and when my supervisor responded really, really poorly, I struggled with some more of the terror/ shame/ freakout that comes with halting the perfectionism madness. Like you, I still have a hard time trusting that it's ok for me to put myself first, and to put my own definition of what I need/ want/ etc first.

    I do genuinely like to be busy, so it's difficult sometimes to separate the "must work" from the "want to." Lately, I try to ask myself whether a project/ opportunity/ job offer/ etc is something I want to DO or something I want to have done/ have people know I did/ tell people about later. When I have the option, I try to only commit when the work itself is what excites me. For the past couple of days, I've also been keeping a "done" list to compare with my to-do list, just gently noting all the things I complete in a day, whether those things are work-related, personal projects, or totally non-productive (e.g. "listened to the radio," "read Kat's new blog," "enjoyed a cup of coffee.") I don't know how it will pan out, but it's my hope that little challenges like that will help me adjust my thought processes a little-- so that eventually I'll really understand that it's ok to prioritize what I find fulfilling and to prioritize rest.

    We're smart folks. I think we can master this eventually. :P


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