Another week, another Friday. Oof. And yet, Friday has a special magic about it...no matter how tired I am when it arrives, my heart always feels a little lighter, a bounce enters my step, and I can't help the smile on my face.
I like the idea of sliding into Friday, into the weekend...as always, there's lots of feels and to-do's and each week brings its own challenges. But there's something nice about not feeling so exhausted by the time the weekend rolls around that all you want to do is sleep.
I told a friend I've realized I need to be more kind to myself DURING the week, not just on the weekend. I touched on this a little last Friday...but I've been thinking hard and letting everything settle within and form this post.
I've always been a juggler, a multi-tasker, a cook with a hand in every pie, a girl who loved to dance with a tray full of plates and feel the rush of thrilling success at keeping them all steady.
So I was shocked when the week before my twenty-second birthday everything crashed down, when my arms suddenly failed me, when every ball I was desperately trying to keep in the air fell...and shattered on the ground.
I was left staring at my hands in disbelief, not because of what they dropped - but because they were shaking.
Because finally, so very finally, my body, my mind, my heart - my life - came screeching to a halt, to a horrifying crash that builds and builds, piling up like the ugliest train wreck that's spilling out of my eyes, out of my soul.
Because finally, I was forced to stare at the girl in the mirror and accept the fact that I've never really taken care of her the way I should have. That I hadn't been as kind and forgiving and loving towards her like I've been to other people. That I'd cleared my schedule and dropped important matters time and time again for friends in need, but rarely did I do the same for her.
'Keep going,' I told her, 'you're too lazy, you need to work harder, you just waste time anyways so why do you get an intentional break. Do better - why aren't you doing better?'
Rarely did I give her space, time to breathe, the adequate rest...and then I was frustrated and incredibly disappointed when she couldn't run on little sleep, random meals, and always, always a busy rushing and constant loading on of stress.
Mirrors don't lie, and neither did the girl staring back at me with tired eyes. She's so tired. And stretched so thin...and tried so hard. Always to be met with the daily mantra: 'You weren't good enough. You should have done better - you should have done more.'
And it was like waking up, like I finally heard and recognized the cultural lies I'd been grounded by growing up, the ones that had buzzed in my ears, the ones defined as being normal:
You can do it all, rise above the challenges, this unhappiness is normal, growing up means taking on more, everyone else is sleep deprived too.
Well, guess what? None of that's true.
Because you CAN'T do it all. And it's taken my type-A, oldest child, responsible + bossy, loves-being-busy-every-minute self nearly twenty-two years to figure it out. Something always has to give. And it's only now in my third year of college to realized that me - my mental + physical health - was what was giving. I don't know about you, but I finally realize that constantly being stressed and not getting enough sleep and having so much crammed into each hour wasn't much of a life.
So my emotions and I had a little heart-to-heart. I cried (mostly because I was tired, but also because, FEELINGS), called my mom, listened to some friends, and tried to figure out what God was telling me.
Which was to breathe...and let go.
And that is so hard for me, to admit I can't handle everything on my plate, to quit something, to say 'no.'
But that was my only real goal for this year. To say no more. Even to myself.
So I told my boss I needed to take the semester off from work, I dropped an class that's unnecessary for my major and doesn't hone my real craft, I started having time for real meals, and spent more time in the sunlight...letting myself have time to breathe, to sit, to be.
I felt radical in my realization the world cultivates a desire for busyness in us, that we feel restless and frantic if we don't feel harried and frantic.
So I've been taking better care of myself lately. And let me tell you, friends, it feels good. And nice to think of myself for once. Everything is a balance, I'm learning - our generation seems to struggle with that. We're either too self-obsessed or too hard on ourselves.
But from one former rusher-and-pressurer to another, let me whisper to you wherever you're reading this...on your phone, on your laptop, in your room, in the hallway before class, in your bed before you fall asleep...
It's okay. It's okay to slow down and take care of yourself.
Why don't you try it? You don't have anything to lose and so much to gain.
Sending you love + prayers this weekend, friends.