Show Yourself Some Love

Today was the first day of the fall semester, and while I did not have class today, I did go into the office to organize and prepare for the two classes that I have tomorrow and Thursday. It was a busy day on campus and over the course of the week there will all sorts of emotions circulating through the halls. There are many tasks I want to accomplish this semester, but I found myself re-committing to a promise that I made to myself about four years ago (around the time I was hired on full time at my community college). The promise was to take better care of myself during the semester and it is something I actively think about every term.

This vow to care for myself came from years of being a graduate student/teaching fellow and then an adjunct instructor. I wasn’t kind to myself in those years. I didn’t eat well, I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t exercise regularly, I didn’t take quiet time for myself and I didn’t say “no” very often. In fact, when it came to my time as an adjunct, I never said no. This was an active strategy on my part. I wanted to be seen as a team player and dependable and flexible. I felt all of these things would serve me well if I were ever in the position to apply for a full time position. As it turned out, that full time position popped up after I had been at my community college for about a year and a half. I applied. I was offered the job. I accepted.

At the lovely IMA.

The first year I was full time, I fell back into my old habits. The spring semester I took on seven, yes, seven, classes (don’t ask) and I suffered for it. I was cranky. I was tired. I felt gross physically and sluggish mentally. I ate poorly and exercise? Forget it. I decided that I needed to reevaluate how I was living my life because what I was doing wasn’t working.

The first thing I started to do was say “no.” Admittedly, this was easier given my past behaviors. I wasn’t criticized for cutting back, in fact, I was encouraged to, so I did. I focused only on my courses and the student creative writing group I advised for.  I also started getting back to exercise and eating better. I started cooking more and discovered I really enjoyed it. In fact, doing things I enjoyed made me happy, so I added to the list. I went on walks, read books I wanted to read during the semester, watched movies, got manicures, and went hiking in the woods. I was happier and more balanced. This taking care of myself was working.

I found myself in a familiar position this time last year, when I realized that once again, I was over committed to things I wasn’t necessarily that invested in, so I cut back. eliminated some stresses at work and re-committed to self care. I started going to yoga and discovered Zumba and turbo kick. I read more books, took time to go to the pool in the summer and spent some weekends away with my husband.

I need balance. I am much happier if I have balance and I’m fiercely protective of my own time because it is mine. It makes me sound self centered, but I don’t necessarily have to be alone to enjoy “me time.” However, I do need to give myself breaks and special treatment every now and then. This isn’t being selfish. It is being a human being. Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Love yourself. You deserve it.

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