I’m going to be very honest with you all, these last few months have been extremely stressful for me because I have been dealing with a lot. I’m sharing a portion of my life with you today in the hopes that it may help someone who needs it.
It all started back in late May/ early June of this year. I suddenly was very sick from food poisoning it made my appetite non-existent. At the time, I was the assistant director and had a small part in a play that a friend of mine was directing. On top of this, I had my regular full load of school work, this blog, and my job on the weekends (Saturday AND Sunday). Instead of allowing myself time to heal properly, I tried to keep up with my hectic schedule and also heal myself. I would go to doctors appointments before rehearsals and classes, and each time I went I saw that I had lost another 2 or 3 pounds. By the end of the ordeal, I had lost about 12 lbs.
I’ve always been the kind of person to take my feelings and put them in a box for later. When something traumatic happens in my life, I shove my emotions down, put on a smile and deal with it later. And if you couldn’t tell already, I also tend to be an over-achiever. Soon, my stress began to eat me alive.
Once the play ended, I started to become healthy again and I thought my life was back on track. So, I got a lead role in another play and I also joined the Glee Club at my school. But, over the coming months I started to notice changes in myself and how I dealt with others. I would become incensed over the smallest things and began distancing myself from my friends because I was annoyed with everyone.
I was dreading the weekends and the thought of having to go back to my job which I once loved, but now hated. I was constantly tired and would fall asleep in class and then get mad when a teacher would call me out on it. I also wasn’t putting any of the weight back on that I had lost even though my appetite was back to normal.
Despite all of that, I continued to live my life and tell myself that I was strong enough to handle whatever life threw at me. Which is true, but what I was doing was ignoring, not handling. For a while, I had friends and people close to me asking me what was wrong with me because I wasn’t behaving like myself. I would always brush it off and blame it on being tired. Then one day one of my favorite teachers pulled me aside and told me “You’re getting too thin. I can see it in your face.”
This hit me hard, because I respect and admire this person very much, and seeing the concern in their eyes surprised me. In the moment I played it off and briefly explained that I had been sick. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something needed to change in my life. I didn’t feel like myself at all anymore and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my behavior could turn dangerous very quickly.
The next few weeks were very interesting for me because I began to watch myself more closely and saw how I had been letting my stress impact my life. One night I had a conversation with my mom that really changed me. She expressed concern over how thin I had gotten and said that I needed to let some things go. She said “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should”. It’s a very simple idea, but it truly spoke volumes to me.
I realize now that since I had been ignoring my body and personal well-being to satisfy commitments I had made to others. I’m used to pushing past everything I feel to get things done. For me, “the show must go on”. I told myself that since I was still getting straight A’s and “handling” everything that I was fine but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I needed real and actual change.
From there, I knew I had to let something go. Since I am very passionate about the work I do at school, I knew I wasn’t able to give any of that up. The only thing that made sense for me was letting go of my job. So, two weeks ago I finally made the decision to quit my job of three years.
This past weekend was my first full weekend off in several months and when I woke up Monday, I felt renewed! This past four day weekend I did nothing but laugh at some of my favorite movies (I must have watched Miss Congeniality 1 & 2 about five times), sleep late, and not much else. It was glorious. Relaxation and laughter truly are some of the best forms of medicine.
My biggest lesson in all of this is that we must be brave enough to admit when something is no longer working for us. Whatever that is. If you’ve worked hard at trying to keep something together, and it’s not working out, let it go. For so long I had been trying to tell myself that everything was fine and it wasn’t. I started to lose myself because of that.
People can get stuck in a routine and will stick with something even when it no longer makes sense for them. For months I had been wanting to quit my job, but I was afraid because I didn’t want to upset anyone at my job and I didn’t know what my life would be like without it. I ignored myself because I was afraid of what might happen. Please, never be afraid of what might happen. And if you are going to think about what might happen, how about imagining that things go well for you?
Turns out, me quitting wasn’t even a problem. My boss told me I can come back anytime I want and he totally understood. My coworkers even tried to throw me a going away party.
I also realized that I had this sub-conscious idea that resting or “taking a break” was beneath me. My body was begging me to take a break and I ignored it. I finally decided to listen, and I’m so glad I did.
My mom had always told me how society puts undue pressure on women, so much so, that we are always trying to “prove” our worthiness, toughness, and why we should be taken seriously. It was like I was competing with all that societal pressure without even knowing it.
The truth is, I haven’t felt like myself for a very long time. Probably since before May and I never would have realized that unless I gave myself what my body needed. I am only human, and that is all I will ever be. To take breaks, need rest, fall down, fail, etc. doesn’t make me weak, it makes me human.
I hope that reading this gives you the courage to look at your own life and see where you can make a change. I believe that we aren’t meant to live a life that is excessively stressful, so be kind to yourself first! Our bodies are infinitely wise and in order to live our lives to the fullest, we must take care of the vehicle with which we move through life. Invest in yourself and your life will be so much richer.
As you move through the holidays, be mindful of the stress you are putting on yourself. I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.