It’s been a while, my friends. I have neglected this blog, much as I have neglected caring for myself.
Maybe it’s a reflection of my priorities–myself always falling last on the laundry list of things I need to get done. Because somehow, “self-care” is not something that appealing when I’m writing my to-do list. It’s not enough syllables to sound important to me.
And now, 2015 is essentially half over. Already. And as astonishing as that is to me, it also isn’t surprising at all. What is surprising is how much I have accomplished, and yet how little I feel like I have progressed (and how much I still make excuses for my lack of perseverance and direction in both my research interests & my “personal projects”).
When I graduated almost exactly one year ago, I was sure that I would make the most of my “last summer of freedom”. I thought I’d find myself. I thought something would find me. I really don’t know what I talked myself into believing, but I really and truly thought that my life would somehow dramatically shift into adulthood and that things would just happen for me. I also thought I’d stop making run-on sentences a regular occurrence in my writing.
As it turns out, none of that happened.
What I learned instead is that adulthood and post-graduate life is hard. I even wrote a blog post about it. You’d think that would be enough to teach me. But alas, dear friends. I inherited my father’s wit, but not his foresight. (Shout out to my pops if you’re reading this. Love you, babs…and as a sidenote, I have never called my father “babs” before, but I think he’d find it endearing.)
When people tell you that working life is hard, they are not joking. It is equal parts exhausting and liberating and confusing. Colleges should make How To Survive Being In A Full-Time or More-Than-Full-Time-If-You’re-In-Non-Profits Job 101 course a pre-requisite for graduation. But that would be a whole lot of paperwork to enforce, so instead, we’re stuck learning life the hard way–by actually living it.
And it is not that I thought working full-time would be easy or smooth-sailing 100% of the time. But I did not know how tired you can get. And how easy it is to get derailed and not put the effort into caring about yourself and your aspirations because you’re just too tired all the damn time. Because working an 8-5 job is not like the three different clubs and organizations you used to juggle like a pro. You can’t do a job and fifty million side projects without getting burnt out. You just can’t. And I think that when I realized that (and am still realizing that), it hurts for someone like me. Because I am a somebody who gets excitement and a unique sense of euphoria and doing multiple things at once successfully. Having to put projects that I am passionate about to the wayside gives me a really visceral reaction. It is a very real, raw kind of hurt that I can’t really explain except that it feels like you’re breaking up with the person you thought you loved, but didn’t really because you’re thirteen years old and not Justin Bieber, so you don’t actually know what love is. And again, there’s that run-on sentence.
Really though. I think that when I realized how exhausting it is to try and accomplish everything all at once and be everything to everyone, you’re kind of left with nothing for yourself.
I’m slowly figuring out what really matters to me and how I can use my skills and interests to provide real, impactful change. It’s hard, but so worth it. I know that I would rather spend five years building something I’ve done the research on and I know won’t be detrimental to target communities than get my hands on everything I have a remote interest in. I’ve done that and seen others do it before and I know how bad it can be for those you’re trying to help–including yourself.
And I know that one day, I will be a professor that cares and be so many things for so many people. (I’ll also get the damn chile pepper on RateMyProfessor… y’all know what I’m talking about.) But until then, I am understanding that I can’t beat myself up over not being at a certain place or having accolades that I know others my age may have.
And maybe this summer I’ll finally experience the magical summer that Disney Channel always produces movies about, minus the musical numbers. Maybe I will finish writing my book(s) or explore a new place by myself. And I’ll surround myself with people who care and do good things and make me laugh. I’ll stop striving for perfection and start embracing uncertainty. And I will finally know what it means to care about yourself–that being selfish in this context is one of the most selfless things you can do.