“So much of life is spent saying ‘Pick me, please chose me, pick me, pick me.’ What if we stopped waiting to be chosen?” Jen Pastiloff. I’m seeing now how much we need to champion ourselves. Society discourages us from protecting ourselves in that we are meant to feed into the system and hope that someone deems us worthy enough to excel and progress. The truth is we are all worthy and the system will always protect the system. We need to protect ourselves. We need to be our own best friend, our own advocates, our own fighter, our own loves. Life doesn’t happen in the moments someone says, “This is for you.” It happens in the moments we take for ourselves. It happens in the moments we create for ourselves. When we walk outside on a cool fall day, warmed by the sun. When we say we can’t work today because our minds need a break.
I know how hard this is. I know how hard it is to set the boundary and take the time for yourself. I know how the guilt sets in when we stop what we feel we should be doing in order to do what we know we need to do. When other people rely on you, it feels like a let down if we aren’t there in the capacity to take care of what we are responsible for. But that is a funny line in itself. We mistake that we are responsible for people or for outcomes when I reality we are responsible TO them. Yes, we all have obligations to meet but that doesn’t mean the weight of the outcome is solely on us. We need to hold up our end, but even then, we need to let people know when we aren’t able to do that.
When it comes to working in the corporate world, we are trained that giving up personal time and getting the job done are the norms. I’ve been trying to convey a message to my team that it’s a matter of prioritization. NOT EVERYTHING IS AN EMERGENCY!! Also an emphatic note that POOR PLANNING doesn’t constitute an emergency, either. In healthcare it’s easy to mistake that because we are trained that everything is important. That may be true to a degree when we are dealing with people’s lives, but we have to often remind ourselves that not everything is life or death. There are things that can wait. The ironic thing is that there is often the hurry and push to get things done but then nothing comes of it for some time. We are more interested in control than outcomes. We are trained to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others, hoping we will receive something in the end after a humble, “Just doing my job.” But the truth is, if you’re gone, they will find someone else to replace you, and that can be said of anywhere.
So take the time. Set the boundary and do what you need to do for your mental health. Appreciate yourself and everything you’ve done and know the strength it takes to say, “I need to take care of myself right now.” It’s ok to forget our training that our families don’t matter either. Even if we are told that family comes first, taking time off to deal with a family situation is often met with a tone or an air of, “Really?” The truth is your family needs you more than your job does and you need to be healthy more than you need someone’s approval and praise. To Pastiloff’s quote, I follow up with her quip, “I get to choose me.” We don’t need anyone to validate that what we did is “right.” You get to say what is right for you and we need to normalize that. I pick me, and I hope you pick you…EVERY time.