Self-care is a trend that’s been making the rounds online. Treat yo’ self is the new mentality, with therapy coming in the form of spending big at Sephora and Lush. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good self-care Sunday. Is there anything better than taking the day to pamper yourself?
Face masks and bath bombs aside, however, self-care has a deeper meaning for me. Leaving my full-time job last June was my ultimate self-care move. Not only was the job thankless (as most jobs are), but my daily three-hour commute left me drained and I felt as though I was on a path to nowhere fast. I knew I needed to reclaim not only my time and energy but also my career… so I left.
Was I crazy? Perhaps. But being my own boss was something that I had been working towards for months. I already had a few steady freelance writing gigs on the side, and I trusted myself and my ability to hustle to make the leap. Many people asked me (and some still ask me) if I’ll go back and get a “real” job. Woof. To some people, working in an office is the only worthwhile and stable job there is. I trust myself and I trust the process enough to know that if there ever comes a time when I need to go back to a 9–5 office job, that it will become abundantly clear.
It has been nine months since I left the stability of a full-time job and I’ve never looked back.
These days, I wake up when I want to. I make my own meals at home instead of living on overpriced salads and smoothies. When I treat myself to a coffee shop beverage, it’s because I want one, not because I’m desperate for any excuse to leave the office. I do my laundry while I work. My house is (mostly) clean. I go to the gym four times a week and actually enjoy it. My mental and physical health is the best it has ever been. My bank account is the best it’s ever been, too.
I don’t say all of this to brag.
Not too long ago, I was in a place where extreme anxiety was my normal.
After years of trying to suppress it, I decided to face it head-on. I talked to my doctor about it and we decided to start me on a low dose of an SSRI. To me, there was a distinct before and after the med, and the improvement in my mental health cannot be understated. Since leaving my full-time job, anxiety triggers like my daily train commute, workplace stress, and neglected physical health have all been firmly left in the past, too.
Time is the most precious commodity on earth because it is finite, and I am now giving myself time for the things that make me happy. Travel and taking vacations are important to me, so I’ve made them a priority. Exercise is important to me, so I’ve made that a priority, too. I dog-sit sometimes because I love hanging out with dogs, even though we’re not ready to get one yet. I make lists of things that I love and try to put into words the feelings that are hard to articulate. I watch TV. I read books. I spend time with my husband and I cook for us.
I celebrate the small victories, like folding my clothes and doing the dishes. My physical health and body are important. My mental health is important. My relationships with others are important. I make time for friends, stay true to my word, and do my best to be someone that others can rely on.
It’s not to say that I wasn’t doing all of these things before I left my 9-5 job, but I now have a deeper sense of self-care and have the time to devote to nurturing myself.
Now, I feel as though I can stretch all the way through my fingertips.
I’m more than just a cog in a machine; I am the limited edition. There never was nor ever will be anyone like me. There will never be anyone who thinks or speaks or writes or loves exactly like me. I’m not sure why, at 28, this is a revelation to me, but it’s something that fuels and reassures me when the self-doubt starts to creep in.
Other things I have been thinking about lately:
- That helping other people takes nothing away from me
- That being my true and authentic self can never be wrong
- That exposing my fears and putting myself out there will open doors I never imagined or even knew existed
- That “followers” mean nothing and that real relationships mean everything
- That no one will write on my tombstone or in my obituary about the number of followers I had
- That I’m allowed to take up space in the universe
- That my words and thoughts and time are worth more than an arbitrary “salary”
- That having excitement for the future and taking joy in the present are not mutually exclusive
I love myself and I am genuinely, breathlessly, and jumping-out-of-my-skin excited as to what the future will bring. I hope you are, too.