It’s official. My last summer as an undergraduate ends this weekend! What a weird feeling. After three years, I’m embarking on my final two semesters before beginning a completely different chapter of life. Looking back, I never would have thought I’d be where I am today.
It’s funny how it goes…your plan probably isn’t what God has in store for you. The truth is, that’s a good thing because I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. It’s a great feeling to know that God’s got it all together for me 🙂
And I think a lot of my recent happiness also has to do with a lifestyle change I’ve been implementing. To tell you the truth, I didn’t realize I was doing this until my mom shared a newspaper article with me telling the story of a person experiencing a similar situation. The article was a Q&A where a reader submits a question to an expert who then answers that question.
To quickly sum it up, the reader shared that she had become very irritable lately, which is very unlike her. Typically, she’s optimistic and an enthusiastic person, but she’s come to notice that the people in her life were wearing her down. They were demanding so much from her that she had no idea what to do other than suffer through it. She was a people pleaser like me.
I think we’ve all experienced times like these…when the world seems to want more than we can give. Maybe we become irritable, reclusive, or lethargic. Regardless, we embody a persona that contrasts our normal selves…a lesser version.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t really notice it until someone points it out to you, or you hit rock bottom. And that’s the worst feeling. There’s nothing that strains our pride more than being called out or having to admit that we “can’t handle it”.
But, the truth is that this phenomenon is a sign that we are doing too much. It’s a sign that we need to look at the people around us and check our relationships….
Are they filling us up or draining us? Are they helping us become better versions of ourselves? What about that job? Volunteer position? Are they really doing what they should be doing for us?
Chances are the answer is no to one or more of these questions, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Realizing we are dedicating time and energy to a hurtful cause instead of a fruitful one is the first step to reclaim our energy. But then another roadblock arises…
When I finally made that realization and began to adjust commitments and friendships, I felt guilty for doing so. I felt selfish because to me, I was letting people down. I’m very much the type of person that puts others before myself, so when I focus on myself instead I feel awful.
This summer, I recognized that I shouldn’t feel awful because essentially all I’m doing is taking care of myself. Self-care is one of the most rewarding actions we can take in the journey to become the best versions of ourselves, but it’s often the most neglected for this very reason. What makes it worse is that other people don’t understand what we’re doing.
“What do you mean you can’t come to girls night? You’re going to order pizza and watch a movie by yourself instead?” “You mean you can’t come over to watch the game because you’re going to take your family to the beach? But it’s football season! Can’t you go on Saturday instead?”
As the columnist shared, we can think of ourselves as a glass of water. It’s most optimal for us to be as full as possible. There’s always going to be a little empty space at the top that symbolizes our commitments, but the water (our energy levels) should always be nearing the brim. But what happens when we always say “yes” or stretch ourselves too thin is that those activities begin to take sips from us until the water nears the bottom. And if we don’t take time to refill our glass by relaxing and building ourselves back up, the glass runs dry…enter the irritability, tiredness, etc.
So I’d venture to say that we shouldn’t think of self-care as weakness or selfishness, but rather an essential action we must take to keep ourselves fresh. It’s how we ensure that we are always able to give our best effort to every commitment and relationship we have. It’s how we make the most out of life.
So in a way, being called out is a good thing because it’s a chance for us to become who we are meant to be and to return to our normal selves. It’s a wake up call.
Yet, one of the hardest things to do when we are at the bottom is to climb back to the top. Thankfully, the columnist shared some great ways to do this…
- Reevaluate Relationships: The truth is that we all have friendships that do more harm than good. We all have people in our lives that take more life from us than they give. As horrible as this might sound, it’s time to take those people out of the picture. I like to think of friends as seasons. They come and go with the years. They all serve a purpose at one point or another. Some stay forever and some for a short while. There’s nothing wrong with saying goodbye in order to take care of ourselves. And the truth is that if they’re draining us, we’re probably are doing the same to them.
- Reevaluate Commitments: It’s easy for us to bite off more than we can chew. You all know I’m guilty of this, but this summer I’ve turned down the notch and cutback on a lot of things. I try to only commit to things that will help me reach my future goals because anything that demands my energy to should be beneficial to me. My time is valuable, and the minute I accepted this a massive weight came off my shoulders. Most of all, we only have one life to live, and I want to spend it doing what I’m passionate about. I only want to do what’s going to help me become the best version of myself.
- Reevaluate Yourself: This one hit home for me because I’m my own worst critic. I think we all are. We are harder on ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually than we generally should be. But if we think poorly about ourselves, we will limit our potential. We will do nothing but drag ourselves down. So, be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself your beautiful. When hurtful thoughts enter your mind, stop them in their tracks and say their opposite. As Jen Sincero says at the end of every chapter, “Love Yourself.”.
- Take Care of Yourself: Go on that walk. Go get that weird freckle checked by the doctor. Take your medications. Spend time with your family. Choose the healthy option, but also don’t say no to cake at your kid’s birthday party. Find that life balance that we all need. The only way to do this is through practice. I’ve started spending more time with family, and I honestly feel like a new person.
So to sum it up, we all are guilty of doing too much in some area of our lives, but we need to recognize that being overcommitted is more harmful than beneficial. Let’s take ownership of our lives and take care of ourselves. We owe it to ourselves 🙂
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Thank you for reading, and talk to you on Monday 🙂
“Sometimes you have to be selfish to be selfless.” ~ Edward Albert