Self-Care and The Beginning
I had a few ideas for this blog when I first started it. I figured I would make it an even mix between website building goodies and more esoteric entrepreneurial things-of-interest (like what inspires people to be come entrepreneurs or interviews with folks who started their own biz or ways to “niche” in your field, etc…all of which will still be blogged about btw).
As I’ve brainstormed over the past several weeks of not blogging (whoops), another topic close to my heart keeps resurfacing in such a way that I plan to add it with regularity: the subject of self-care. Originally I thought this would be a blog or two under the “entrepreneurial” category, but it’s not just important for business owners (which it is, like, very, very important) — it’s important for human beings with all kinds of jobs and tasks. And it’s a topic worthy of much, much more than a blog or two.
Now trust me when I say that none of this content will be preachy. Nothing about my self-care blogging with be holier-than-thou because, truthfully, I’m not always good at it. I’m still figuring it out. In fact, amidst my relatively new entrepreneurial journey, self-care is the Number One thing I’m trying to teach myself and grow into right now. Number Two is Quickbooks, but that’s another blog for another day.
Believe it or not, self-care as a concept was not introduced to me until I went to graduate school, where I earned my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2016. My fantastic program at Appalachian State put a big emphasis on it — as therapists-to-be, my professors and mentors were adamant about teaching us that, try as we might, we would not be able to take care of others or help others if we did not take care of or help ourselves.
For over two years, I was immersed in a culture where self-care was not a luxury, it was a necessity. It was lovingly encouraged. It was celebrated and supported. And for those two years, it changed my life. I grew into myself. I took care of myself. I felt naturally inclined toward self-compassion and I checked in with myself often. It was the nicest I’d ever been to myself.
But once I left the grad school nest and took to the “real world” skies…that support and encouragement was much tougher to come by. The “real world” has an unfortunate tendency to color self-care as indulgent or selfish. Sometimes the message even goes so far as to indicate that we’re weak if we need self-care. As if somehow we should be “tougher” than that — in essence, the message we sometimes receive is that if we need a rest day or we need to slow down or we need to pause or we need to self-nourish, we’ve failed. We weren’t good enough because we didn’t tough it out. And somewhere out there is a magnificent, strong, impressive human being who just “pushes” through, and they have succeeded because they achieved their goals without needing to stop.
I’d forgotten that that’s the message that most of us are sold.
Unfortunately, instead of recognizing that my grad school peers had it right and the world had it wrong, I heard the judgement, felt the fear of going against the tide, and slid — month-by-month, year-by-year, piece-by-piece — back into the current.
I became harsh with my self talk again. I began, once again, to work work work until I burned out, and then sit sit sit in a pile of unmotivated shame while I figured out how to dredge my motivation back from the depths.
My insecurities about whether it was “self-care” or “self-indulgence” (or worse, “laziness”) resurfaced with regularity.
The socially acceptable view of self-care (i.e. you shouldn’t need it, but if you do, indulge sparingly, and make no mistake, it IS an indulgence and you’re entitled to it but only if you EARN it, and you have to work impressively hard to earn it, and even when you think you’ve earned it, we’ll be there to remind you of what you could have achieved if you hadn’t been so lazy and weak) started swirling around me like a thick fog — enveloping me, obscuring my view and causing me to lose sight of my self-love, self-compassion and general satisfaction with life.
Yet this time, as I heard and felt that message…I also knew better.
Now, I didn’t “know better” enough to clear the fog right away, but I knew enough to know that it WAS a fog. Before I realized the miraculous impact of self-care, I thought that the fog was just…the sky. It was the way things were. But once the fog clears and you can see the beauty of the landscape, well, you become intensely aware of when you’ve lost the view.
So no, the blogs on this topic will not be preachy. They might be how-to’s. They might be my own attempts to normalize my own experiences (honesty hour: I strive for this often as a writer and I’m not ashamed). They will “mythbust” and challenge commonly held views. They will provide solid discussion topics. They will encourage introspection. But more than anything, they will hopefully be a way to clear the fog. A way to clear and reframe and reprioritize the messages we hear and tell ourselves. A way to normalize the need to care for ourselves — as entrepreneurs (current or aspiring) or employees or just human beings.
This self-care series will continue for as long as I have topics (soooo forever?) — upcoming posts include topics like “Self-Care and ‘The Hustle,’” “Self-Care and Self-Talk” and “Self-Care and Unplugging.” Topics that matter for my entrepreneur clients (and other folks alike), topics that aren’t always talked about, topics that we internalize and topics that we deserve to pour a little love on.
Forgetting that we’re allowed to take care of ourselves (and deserve to take care of ourselves without having to earn it) is normal. It happens to all of us…even the specially trained mental health care professionals. But it is a power I believe we should always reclaim, over and over again.
So whether you think you’re incredibly good at nourishing your mind, heart and soul (pls email me with your secrets), whether you don’t even know where to start when it comes to self-care, or whether you go in and out of self-care with the various phases of life and circumstance (totally normal), we all still have something to learn and some way to grow. I encourage you to be part of this dialogue and learn from one another — after all, bringing these topics to light and connecting with others are two of the best ways to remind ourselves that we’re not alone.
Let’s begin to clear the fog, shall we? ♡