In some situations I simply overreact and shut down. I avoid certain topics until it seems that the person asking me questions has moved on from waiting for my response. I have been working on remedying this trait, which strangely enough only often appears in social situations with close friends. Asking for help has never been my strong suit. I’m getting better at it though, in a professional and a personal sense. Still there are days when I freeze – I close myself off and retreat into my own mind. I do not know exactly why I do this but I still do it regardless of reason or logic. I’m afraid of people passing me over so I keep myself down sometimes.
As you can most likely tell I worry way too much. My worries can consume an entire day, they chew up my minutes, steal away my hours, and then somehow I end up watching Lifetime movies. They reassure me for some unknown reason.
This past Monday I had a pounding headache. No, let’s call a spade a spade, I had a migraine. It progressed into a horrible pounding throughout the day and I slept for over ten hours at the very least. I needed it. My body was fatigued. But at first I wasn’t going to give myself that chance to recover. I know from past experience that a day like Monday, which didn’t simply just begin with a headache but a stuffed nose too, can all too quickly turn into an third degree cold.
Usually, I tend to ignore my own symptoms in favour of pushing on and getting through the day. I often reflect upon the idea that other’s have it worse and that I really should not be taking myself out of play for something as mundane as a potential cold. However, those colds have a way of levelling me for a week or more, a fact I usually gloss over when confronted with the decision to go into work and school or not.
I called in sick on Monday. I took the day off from class. I sent in regrets for my sorority’s Winter Big/Little Reveal. And do you know what motivated me to finally take care of myself? The book “I Am That Girl” by Alexis Jones. While my parents and friends have regularly told me to take more time for myself for some reason reading a book prompted my breakthrough. However, I do still credit those closest to me for caring about my wellbeing. I needed to make this decision to care for myself on my own and that’s what Jones’ book did for me, it made me aware of my own agency again.
And guess what? The world did not stop. People’s lives continued as normal. We tend to get so focused on parts of our lives such as school or work that we forget that those institutions or companies existed before us and will exist long after our departure. We are not that special. We do not make the world turn. I find this thought oddly comforting. I was worried about not being there for work but my boss was only focused on reassuring me that it was okay to take a sick day. My professor acknowledged my absence but still taught. Of course they did, because life goes on whether I am there or not.
We have become so focused on being “special” and unique that we believe only we can do what we do but it’s not true. There are millions of other freelance writers out there just like me, some worse, and some better. There are humanities students striving to keep their grades up and their scholarships just like me. There are only children, who are and aren’t part of sororities, that have sibling-like relationships with their friends. We are not special. But we are good enough.
We are good enough to exist, to live, to laugh, to breathe, to dance, to sing, to draw, to love, to comfort others, to write, and to listen; the list of our values is endless. I’m actually learning that maybe I do not need to worry so much because once I’ve done what is in my control all I can do is offer a helping hand to others. Life will play out as it will whether I have a migraine or not.
I have to start taking better care of myself because no one else will do it for me, and really no one else can do it better than I can. I put myself first on Monday and it felt good. I pushed back the guilt people sent my way because I knew that being a productive member of society was not in the cards for me that day. And that was okay because I am allowed to fall and to stumble. I am human after all and we are perfectly imperfect for a reason.
I am back at school today. I even packed myself breakfast and lunch.
I am learning to take care of myself. I am not being selfish. I am being responsible. You should take care of yourself too because while we may not be special, we are important.