Last Thanksgiving, I was fighting through a break-up and an I-just-graduated-college-who-am-I-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life identity crisis. My solution to this was to push myself into overdrive, throwing myself into working, blogging, publishing, and generally making sure that I didn’t show weakness or give in to my emotional state. In a way, this sort of kamikaze go-go-go approach has given me much to be thankful for, because it has led to some incredible professional opportunities over the past year. It also nearly burned me out.
As I started to make peace with myself, the universe handed my family health scares, emotional pain, and devastating loss in rapid succession. Just when I thought the snowball might stop rolling down the hill in the last few months and cut us all a break, everything came to a head. My mother had an unsuccessful operation that we had rested nearly all hope on for what has so far been an untreatable condition, and my grandpa (my mother’s father) passed away all within the span of 48 hours.
In the midst of everything, I was frantically emailing people, finishing grad school assignments, writing, reading, taking notes, dragging my laptop to the hospital to finish things so I wouldn’t have to break promises or deadlines. I feared slowing down.
Then I got an email from one of my professors reminding me that in an airplane emergency, you’re supposed to put your oxygen mask on first before you help other people put on theirs. Otherwise, you may not be useful at all.
I know it seems really simple and obvious, but that was a revelation for me. It’s okay to take care of myself. It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay. Only in taking care of ourselves can we fully be there for all the people we love.
It made me realize exactly where I’m placing my gratitude this year. I’m thankful for the people in my life, the family and friends, who have given me permission to step back and breathe when I struggled to give this permission to myself. I’m thankful for the people who have believed in me and stuck with me on the days when I’d turn to a blank page in my notebook or open up a new blog post and stare at the white space, feeling the usual promise and potential of words on a page completely fizzle away. And I’m thankful for all of you who have been there, and who will be there, to help me work through everything, to grow and thrive and change.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
What are you thankful for this year? How are you taking care of yourself?