We live in a world where we are told that we can have it all – we can be a great mom, the perfect wife, and have a growing career…we just have to work hard enough. Success is defined by how busy we are, how much we accomplish, and how high we have climbed the ladder or how big we’ve built our business.
Somehow being able to survive on only a few hours of sleep becomes a bragging right and how much stress we have in our life is a badge of honor. As women, we’re told we just need to “lean in” – that we’ve been doing it wrong and need to use the resources around us so that we can have it all. This myth of having it all sets us up to fail and then we never feel like we’re good enough. It can leave us feeling burned out and, frankly, bone tired.
In my 20s I found myself working until 2am or willing to do overnight shifts. I was able to climb the proverbial career ladder, found myself making more money, and had a job with more responsibilities. My hard work was paying off! Yes, I was only sleeping 5 hours a night and every day drank a “red eye,” which was a drip coffee with 4 shots of espresso…eek! (It makes my stomach ache just thinking about it now). Although I took so much pride in what I did and it brought about meaning in my life, I was burning myself out. I found myself absolutely exhausted, but I ignored the exhaustion and kept pushing myself.
Around my 30th birthday I had a breaking point. I had to do something different – I crashed and burned. I couldn’t keep up with this same pace of life and I was in desperate need of something changing in my life. Through a lot of therapy and discussion with my support network I was able to quit my high stress job, and instead pursue a career that was just as meaningful but with a better balance. I was terrified of this change, but I knew I needed to honor my own needs, what felt right, and try not to compare myself to others. I had to determine what was needed for my own self-care.
Right now, self-care is having a moment, which is good, but unfortunately it seems that it’s often used as a marketing tool to get us to spend more money. However, in my opinion one of the best and most useful types of self-care is rest. My favorite is burrowing under a blanket like a squirrel and hiding for some of the morning or late afternoon, likely curled up with my cat.
Just being is enough. Through my own practice of meditation, therapy, and self-exploration I’ve learned how crucial rest is. That maybe our worth is not defined by busyness, that maybe we need to listen to our body and minds and rest. That, really, it’s ok to just be for a moment, or maybe even longer than that.