Selfish or Self Care?

I’ve been really frustrated lately. Like kick-yourself-losing-sleep-puffy-eyed-crying frustrated.

Hi, my name is Jess and I’m exhausted. I’m burnt the f*** out.

*cue the anonymous support group chiming, Hiiii, Jess. We’re glad you’re with us today.*

I moved away from my parents about 10 months ago and had that cliché white girl goal of rE-iNvEnTiNg MySeLf iN mY eArLy tWeNtiEs. New city, new job, new apartment. I’m SO ready for this chapter. What do I do with this overwhelming sense of freedom and infinite possibilities? Do I start a side hustle? Volunteer? Donate a kidney? Maybe all three? Maybe not the last one? Eh.

In typical Jess fashion, instead of seeking something easy or taking things one day at a time, I decided to JUST. DO. ALL. THE. THINGS. AT. ONCE. and then cry about it later because wow, homegirl is drowning over here. The same thing happens when I shop for home decor. Moving on…

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My hobbies include people. I find value in being of service to others. Lately, I’ve been volunteering at the Children’s Hospital weekly and visiting a dementia care home to give manicures to the ladies and encourage conversation. I’ve been committing time and energy to producing a podcast and mentoring tiny pageant princesses. It all fills me up to the brim. However, I’ve learned that you can’t pour from an empty cup. I’ve been giving little drops of myself to work, friends, projects, and people, and although I don’t always expect a refill in return, I do have to learn to limit how big my cup is.

Metaphors.

I’ve been letting people take advantage of the fact that I’m a “yes” person. I have a hard time saying no because it selfishly feels good to be relied on BUUUT it backfires quickly when I ultimately can’t deliver what I originally thought I could promise. What’s the phrase? My eyes were bigger than my stomach or something. That’s what my grandma says, at least. Same dealio.

A huge fear of mine is that if I turn someone away, they’ll be disappointed or upset with me. CUE STROBE LIGHTS NEWS FLASH TO JESS: you can’t do everything, and it’s always possible for someone to be upset with you, but also be aware that someone else’s reaction is not your responsibility to control. So, my friend, if you’re salty that I don’t want to/cannot do something for you, you’re fine, baby cakes. I’m grabbing a refill for myself real quick. I’ll be back in 5-10 business days. Talk amongst yourselves.

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I’m annoyed with myself because I truly enjoy dipping my feet into a lot of projects and being a resource for others, but sometimes this can hurt more than it helps. I was raised to make sure everyone else was served before serving myself, so I often feel guilty for doing “me” things. Should I be dedicating my time to making other lives better? Am I selfish for taking a weekend to do something nice for myself (stay in and sleep because I feel like it on a Saturday night, for example)? For today’s MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION *imagine Regis Philbin emerging from behind a smoke machine for full effect there* where is the line between self care and being selfish? Can I phone a friend on that one?

I love being a shoulder for my friends and I’m humbled that others feel they can turn to me, but I’m also not a licensed therapist or master problem solver. I am a 23 year-old Real Housewives of Beverly Hills addict who eats 1843786 pounds of ravioli per year and can’t keep a plant alive for more than a week. Sue me.

I was cry-texting about these life problems to my boyfriend at 4:00am one night (Austin — if you’re reading this — thanks, my human) and he said to me, “You know what, at least you care. There are 7 billion people on this planet and so many of them only think about themselves. You have the opposite challenge by learning to take care of yourself more often. But what an amazing challenge to have in this life. You care too much. You love too much. And so many people love you, too.”

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Blessed from the heavens by this man, I swear. Just look at him. Look at that face. Sorry, too gushy. Carry on.

I am learning to step away and remember that I can’t do it all. I can’t be the best at everything and I can’t always be there for everyone when they need me. A big part of this is working on understanding that people probably don’t need me as much as I think they do.

Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, a lot of it is self-inflicted. Yes, sometimes I feel used by people who take advantage of generosity. Yes, I’m trying my best to adult (this is a game we’ll all play until we die. Health insurance? Student loans? Oooof). But I’m also really proud of myself. I’m proud to be learning during this big life transition called young adulthood. As I check things off my personal to-do list in this little corner coffee shop today, I added three things:

  • Paint your nails
  • Take a nap
  • Find a good therapist

Be good to yourselves, friends.

Love always,

Jessica

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