Inspiration: “You have to be gentle with yourself.” ~ My colleagues
It is past midnight and I am having one of those moments where I have hit a productivity groove. It is officially Monday morning and I am just now getting around to writing a self care lesson for this week, again. Normally this would make me feel a bit dejected because I try to be punctual and keep myself to a schedule. At this point I have been on “Winter Break” for the last couple of weeks and recently released from a six-month stint in paper editing purgatory, which means I have been attempted to get some much needed and deserved rest. My mind is tired y’all. However I have been seeing myself turn a corner with how I handle myself and approach my perpetually full plate.
The New Year always gets people in the mode of getting a fresh start, turning the page in hopes of being better than they were last year. I am no different. I have set my goals for the year and spent a lot of time reflecting on 2017 and what I have learned. One of the pieces of wisdom that I have been hearing solidly for the last four years at least is to be gentle with myself. Admittedly, I am pretty horrible to Sharde’. I work her senseless and many times berate her for not achieving at a ridiculously high standard. As if she does not deal with enough stress from trying to work through graduate school, working multiple jobs, and side hustling like crazy. This ungodly about of stress has made me sick, tired, and given me long ass grey hairs… Up until I went home for Christmas I looked crazy tired, complete with large bags under my eyes. Spending a lot of alone time caring myself really made me turn a corner with how I understand and practice this whole self care thing. I got to the point where I put my foot down and decided that I cannot go about killing myself working like a madwoman and stressing while those who are dipping in my bucket are sleeping at night and I am up at 3:30am because I have insomnia (but that is a lesson for another day).
I was actually able to allow myself space to not do anything and freely contemplate life, which I desperately needed while I spent Christmas with my mom. The semester starts today which means it is time to get back into the dissertation-writing groove. I have been working on a lot over the break but for at least the last week I have not been putting as much energy into my proposal and getting back into reading academic work. I spent much of the weekend pep talking myself into getting ready to start back in school mode but I am not diving headlong into it like I have tended to do. I am trying to ease back into a routine where I take more manageable bites at this next phase of my program. For me that looks like setting manageable goals for my first week: read a book (two if I’m on it), take notes, and free write 3-5 pages. I can totally do those two things in a week and it gives me a chance to get my juices flowing without getting stressed out about timelines and drafts, etc. Giving yourself manageable weekly or daily goals will take pressure off of you and also give you quantifiable markers of progress and will make you feel accomplished.
We only get one body. If you live in the US you know that our society is one that works endlessly to hit markers of success. Leisure time is not much of a thing, especially if you are working class or lower (which I am). But if you are working toward making moves to be better to yourself, starting a project, or revving back up for school I urge you to slow it down as you get back to business. It is difficult not do dive in and go hard on a thing, but as you care more for yourself you have to be gentle. By that I mean you need to be mindful of your needs, not overdoing it, and not speeding. You do not want to crash or derail yourself trying to do it all, overloading yourself, or attempting to finish super quickly. Be realistic about where you are and what you need to do to be successful, but also give yourself a break. This is a hard lesson for me.
If you are a high achiever, it is easy to overwork yourself and place crazy expectations on yourself. It ultimately will set you up for let downs when you do not hit that mark that you set for yourself. It is important to celebrate small victories that you make and remember that progress is valuable. Speak kind words to yourself and if you cannot, call up someone that can remind you that you are dope as fuck. It is easy to forget when you’re running forward. Take it from someone who knows. It is ok to take your time getting into a flow and finding a good momentum. You want to see and enjoy the achievements, but do not forget that the journey is important too. Be kind to yourself.
Love and Light,