“If you treated your friends the way you treat yourself, would you have any friends at all?”
If today, the only thing you did was brush your teeth, I’m proud of you.
If your alarm went off this morning and you thought, “no thanks, not today,” well done for listening to yourself and getting to where you are now. You’re here, breathing, alive and beautiful. Not the vain type of beauty but the flawed, completely human and totally real beauty.
Not all superheroes wear capes, and if today you decided to leave yours on the coat rack, go out in the rain and just be, then you’re braver than any hero I know. If today you decided to push through your working day, and even through the tears you got that project done, you made it through to lunch time, you smiled at a stranger even though your heart felt like it had been beaten into the ground for the thousandth time, I thank you for being courageous and kind.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a people pleaser. I love people so much. I don’t care who you are, where you come from (sounding like a Backstreet Boys song…) but I love people to the point of forgetting that I’m a person too.
I think maybe that is more common than I realise. Even as I write this, I can think of people in my life who I love so much, and even people who have hurt me, and smile. I smile when I think of what people can do and overcome and how amazing they are. And yet I forget that I am also one of those people, equally worthy of love.
I woke up today and it was dark outside. A cold morning, rain falling outside and covers up to my neck, thinking “I could stay in bed all day.”
I cried, and I’ll let you in on a wee secret; I cry most mornings. For no particular reason other than knowing that life is not predictable and I really like my bed! Through it all, I took it one step at a time, mentoring myself through coffee and beauty products I made it to the car, to my work desk and maybe I’ll even make it to my dance class.
I didn’t realise it before, but this is what success looks like. Not lots of money, not amazing clothes or a big house. Success is not rolling out of bed in a gigantic mansion when awoken by your own private string quartet to breakfast cooked by your private chef – although, that does sound good.
Success, is waking up each day and understanding yourself, knowing yourself and knowing that everything is temporary, I have today and I will spend that in a way that matters.
This week I discovered something pretty big about myself, a limiting belief that I’m ready to change. You know that classic saying “live as though you only have today” – I have totally misunderstood that. Losing my Dad when I was 12 years old, suddenly and without warning, I decided to live in a way that makes the most of every day. To the point of never resting, and I have to tell you, that is hard work.
For the longest time, I genuinely believed that looking after myself in any capacity was selfish and not okay. I’ve spent so long putting others above myself to the point of not having any love left for myself. But how can you love others when your tank is empty, where can you find the strength to get through the hard times when you’ve completely given it away? How can you find time for yourself when you are so booked up trying to fulfil other people’s happiness that by the time you put your head down on your pillow, you haven’t even had the chance to hear your own thoughts?
I consider myself to be an active relaxer, my idea of the perfect day is a dance class, a singing lesson and cooking dinner for my family. That is okay! I often get told my extra-curriculars are over-doing it, and it’s been quite a journey to discovering that we’re all different. Just because someone else doesn’t share my passion, doesn’t mean how I spend my time is wrong. If you find something that makes you truly happy, that uses your gifts and talents to better your life and bless others, you should do it.
Mentally though, how do you get the rest you need and also live life knowing it’s short without it becoming overwhelming?
The grief and the trauma I have experienced often means that while physically I’m doing great, having a blast and having fun, I am often thinking about whether I am doing enough in my life to make it count, whether I am making a big enough difference to humanity, to my loved ones. I find myself in a state of overwhelm and perfectionism to the point of desperation because instead of seeing “YOLO” as a chance to appreciate what I have, I’ve seen it as a challenge to be Wonder Woman and save everyone before the world explodes. I’m not Wonder Woman, I’m human. And that’s okay – I mean it has to be okay, because I unfortunately do not have super powers. (I forgive you if you thought I did, invisibility has at times been my forte!)
So I’m serious, when I say, that today, if you couldn’t be bothered making the bed – who even does that anyway?! It doesn’t matter. If today you decided to skip a gym workout, well done. If today you ate a chocolate bar, I’m proud of you. If today you were brave and bought a new pair of sneakers as a commitment to your health, great stuff. If you dumped Women’s Weekly in the bin because screw Body Dysmorphia, you are a legend.
Life is a rollercoaster and it is worth it. One day you can run a marathon, the next day – well you can still run that marathon, but if you don’t want to, then you don’t have to.
When you feel overwhelmed, imperfect and weak, I want you to know that you are so strong for recognising that and to take a breath and choose to be okay with being fallible.
No one expects you to be perfect, no one expects you to be happy all the time; no one except you. So imagine, if you can change your mind about how you ‘should’ be, how weightless you could feel?
It’s an ongoing life choice, one that we have to make every day and one that sometimes feels easier not to make. I believe you have a life to enjoy, no matter what your circumstance, and happiness isn’t found in external factors, so dive a little deeper and make a choice to love all of yourself, the same way I love you.
Here’s my challenge for you today, make a choice for you. If it’s taking a bath, a walk, a nap. Cooking your favourite meal, saying ‘no’ to something you don’t want to do or deciding that you’re going to say ‘yes’ to something you find challenging because you know it’s good for you. Do something for you, because believe it or not, self-care and selfishness, are not the same thing.
And if you need me, you know where I am.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you.”