Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Only You

We were at our weekly team-builder: a half-hour of social interaction over treats provided by one of the groups in our team, when I saw her standing nearby in a small group of about four people, chatting. Our eyes met - and I wandered over.

Actually I had wanted to chat with her for a couple of weeks, because I'd been thinking about her. She'd recently finished a degree program and obtained her Master's, a process I'm only beginning. As things got busier and busier outside of work, with my classes and my preparation, reading, projects, and the like, I found my thoughts wandering to how she must have felt during her program.

A few seconds into our conversation, she said, "If I had any advice to give you, it's this: don't forget to look after yourself. Sleep. Eat. Exercise." 

I grinned, and let her continue. "It's really easy to get so involved in your studies that you fall prey to the 'just one more page, just one more chapter' kind of thinking. Don't let it happen. Take a break, even if it's for ten minutes. Do something you want to do. Don't give in to the temptation to just grab something at the drive-through, eat healthy." 

I nodded. Her words made sense. 

They carried the message, even though she didn't actually say the words, "You are the only you that you have. Take care of you, because if you don't, you won't have anything left to give." 
A nice pot of soup - steaming away

Her words came back to me yesterday as I struggled with a difficult decision ... it doesn't matter what it was. Yet I found myself tempted to sacrifice my own future, my own sanity even, for the sake of something that - truth be told - was better left to work itself out. 

Yes. I had to let go. AGAIN. But it didn't make it easy. Not one bit. 

If I hadn't, I am sure that I would have bankrupted myself, or landed in a psychiatric ward somewhere because I was trying so very hard to be strong when that situation was not even my situation to control. 

Was it hard? OHHH yeah. 

Once I had finally made that decision and let go, the stress level went from 95% down to 30%. I felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders, which had been getting tighter and tighter over the last several days ... start to relax. My stomach started to un-knot and the nausea subsided. I could take a full breath again. And the only thing that had changed about the situation was my attitude toward it - and toward myself. The crux of the matter was - I was the only me I had. I still am. 

If that means that I have to set boundaries and stick to them - if that means I have to say no to a request, or sacrifice a B+ and settle for a B- to look after myself, then I need to do that. 

Thank you for reminding me of that, my friend.

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