We rely so much on the outside world. We place so much value on others’ opinions, feelings, reactions. We rarely have the opportunity to slow down and recognize how much of who we think we are is wrapped up in external sources: our jobs, other people, things, social media, the places we go. Over the past few days I have begun to grapple with this. It’s not something I haven’t thought of before, but it is certainly something I lose sight of in the pace of ordinary life.
How much of our own self value do we give up, every single day?
As someone who is, under normal circumstances, typically crushed by the “busy” and functioning in survival mode, I can see how it propelled me. I was comfortable there; despite my discomfort, it was a discomfort I knew. I found a twisted sense of solace in it; it was, in its own way, an anesthetizing agent much like food or alcohol can be, and highly addictive. I gave my time, my thoughts, my energy up to so many things, undervaluing myself every time I did so.
The current pace of life is of course much, much different, and I’m left with choices which I have struggled with; I am not accustomed to being the rudder of my own vessel. Busy gave me structure, and my family’s schedules gave me direction. Over the course of my path in writing, I have touched upon how I recognized that allowing each of them their moment to shine wasn’t negative in and of itself, however consistently deferring to them wasn’t necessarily the best thing for me.
I’m working on embracing this freedom, however temporary it may be, and structuring each day by how I want it to flow. This is a practice, and I’m getting better at it, little by little. On the days I am successful, I am taking the time to ask myself what would work best, how I want to feel at the end of the day and listing out what that might mean; what music is playing, what foods am I preparing, what one or two things would make me feel satisfied to have accomplished, are there ways to add something that would spark a bit of joy. I am also learning (or, constantly relearning) how to let the little things go. I am working on my relationships with my daughters, and cultivating better conversations. None of these things would have been previously nor would be impossible in the future to incorporate into the normal pace of life; I just lost sense of them. I am hoping that, with practice, they become a bit more of a ritual I can prioritize.
Because, if I do not value myself, no one else is going to do it for me.
I am also noticing that I have more confidence each day I am successful in knowing what works for me, in listening, understanding, knowing and acting upon what I need.
There are numerous avenues in which to seek, find, read, and hear the things we should or shouldn’t be doing, who is doing it better, who did it first, what we should be feeling, how we should be working through those feelings. So much noise. Now is one of the only times we might be able to choose to turn it off.
The truth is, we all process things differently, and no one knows what you could benefit from more than you. Tune into you. What do you need? What is your body, mind, soul or heart craving that you can accommodate in this current space? Oh, and one tip: don’t wait until 4pm to figure this out. If I haven’t worked these things out when I’m in the best mindset, you’ll find me rummaging in my pantry at 4pm for my third snack and pouring myself a drink shortly thereafter.
Do you know what makes you tick, what makes you happy, how you can soothe yourself, and what works to hold off or even in place of your vices? What could you lean into right now, that you can build on when life resumes? I’m not necessarily asking myself what I want to return to from when life was normal, but what I want to take with me from this pause. If you are having a hard time connecting with what that means for you, you could start here, with an old blog post I wrote when I was just discovering that I didn’t have any idea what that meant for myself.
I am beginning to realize that this is a time to redevelop my sense of self.
I almost squandered it, with TV, social media, booze and giving myself permission to write this time off. But I’m far more important, deserving, worthy and valuable than that.
And so, my friend, are you.
I recognize this is a privilege that I have, and not all are so lucky. However, I don’t feel I need to concede my feelings for the challenges that I am not facing. I can empathize without crippling my own self worth and growth; this isn’t a message for everyone. More often than not I find I write exactly what it is I – and others, it would seem – am needing to hear.