*If you mistakenly stumbled upon this post, make sure you read Part I!*
I remember waking up the next day and booking a vacation to Mexico. I felt mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I was unrecognizable. Worst still, I couldn't figure who I'd ended up this unhappy. I went to Mexico, slept more than I'd ever slept in my entire life, ate all my little heart wanted, had some of the strongest drinks, and used the ocean's waves as the background to meditate. I cried, a lot. There were so many feelings, most of which I had numbed in the past with work. So much came up. I realized that I'd been carrying around a mask for a really long time and I yearned to do away with it. I was scared shitless of what more could come up as I did this work, so I got help to peel back the onion, sort of speak. I returned home, began seeing a therapist and began the process of nurturing myself back to wholeness.
In the process, I also whipped my body into shape, I traveled some more, I developed healthy eating habits, I read a new book every two weeks, and I spent a lot of QT with my family and friends. I had a nice stash to hold me down, so I didn't feel pressure to look for work right away. I can't remember a time that I was happier. I was unaware that what I was doing was "self-care;" to me, it was regaining control of my life, on my terms, and honoring the things that affirm me and my existence. Since then, I've redefined so many things - friendships, career, vulnerability - that have allowed me to be fully engaged and present in my own life. I've been in positions I've never been in, cried the hardest, laughed the loudest, and I've dug reeealllly deep to acknowledge and own my awesome. I also realized the belief and mindset that prevented me from making self-care a non-negotiable part of my lifestyle: guilt and feelings of unworthiness.
I realized that, growing up, I didn't feel worthy of all the educational opportunities I received early on in my life. How wild is that? I worked hard for every grade, scholarship, and award I ever received but somehow, I thought that I had to justify receiving them. I think some of it has to do with attending predominately white schools and institutions and not seeing my background, lived experiences, and skin color reflected in the majority. While I will forever be an advocate for adequate education for students of color, it's not a career choice for me. Those feelings of worth and shame seeped not only into career decisions but also some personal ones too.
A year after taking the biggest chance on myself and quitting a job that didn't align with my true purpose, I enrolled in graduate school. The twelve months prior were a whirlwind. I made a conscious effort to show up in my life. That meant that in moments of true joy and happiness, I relished it, was present, and truly enjoyed it. And, instead of running away or trying to quickly fix moments of discomfort, I sat with it and worked through it. I think started to consistently and frequently receive messages that confirmed my true calling as a therapist. I've always known that helping others heal was my purpose, but I kept pushing it away because it wasn't part of the "life plan" I'd created years ago (what is that, anyway?) Once I started living my life, in my truth, instead of getting caught up in "shoulds,"I started to experience joy. I couldn't have made it this far without centering myself, what matters most to me, and a self-care practice that sustains that.
I hope that you too, choose happiness, and develop a self-care practice to sustain it. If you are interested in learning more about how to develop a practice that is authentic to you, check out my self-care coaching offerings.