When I volunteered to write for Illuminated By U I had so many ideas. I had recently welcomed my first child, would soon graduate with my master’s degree and I felt completely confident in myself and in my future. I felt like I could do anything. Then, just like the Fresh Prince, my life got turned completely upside down. It soon became a major challenge to find balance in my life and the constant pulling in every direction left me feeling exhausted. I thought “Well after I graduate, after I have a job offer, after we’ve finished moving, etc. then I can relax. After all this chaos is over then I can be happy again.” We all know where this is going, don’t we?
In May there was so much to celebrate: my first Mother’s Day and graduation included. However, there was no job offer yet and a lot of scary and hard things happened. How could I possibly write something meant to inspire, encourage, empathize, motivate or entertain anyone when I clearly did not have my shit together?! Mental Health Awareness Month being in May made it harder. Graduating from a counseling program was supposed to make me a whole and healthy person right? This was supposed to make life easier, wasn’t it? Of course not! I just couldn’t release every expectation I had set for myself and for my life.
So I decided to actually use what I had learned in my many classes- I asked for help. Just as I suspected it was painful and I hated every second of it- at first. I reached out to a mentor and asked for a personal consultation. I reached out to someone I didn’t know very well but inspires me. I reached out to family and to my spouse. I felt vulnerable and embarrassed, worried that I was failing to meet their expectations as well as my own. Imagine my relief when every single person I reached out to met me with kindness and support instead of critical judgment!
OK so what is the point? Why share this personal anecdote? Because I suspect a few of you are similar to me. Filled with pride at our ability to take care of ourselves and also fear at letting someone down. Or worst of all letting ourselves down. I’d like to say that by now things have completely worked themselves out, but of course they haven’t. Life hasn’t gotten any easier and dealing with all the ups and downs and surprises hasn’t really gotten easier either.
What has become a little easier is reaching out to my support systems. My friends and family, mentors and other loved ones. It’s gotten easier to recognize when I need some serious self-care- whether that is yoga, meditating, eating cookie dough or taking myself on a drive. It’s gotten easier to just notice that I’m beginning to slip into a depressive state or that I’m beginning to feel especially overwhelmed. This is enough! Just to notice my emotions as they come and as they go are enough!
So if I can encourage, inspire, motivate, etc. any of you to do just one thing it is this: notice how you are feeling and don’t try to cope on your own. It is perfectly ok to reach out to someone and admit that you’re feeling crazy or overwhelmed. Ask for help. Remember that you are so worthy of love no matter how worthless you may be feeling.