It’s been six months since I walked away from my steady job. Six months of trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, where God was leading me, if God leading me is even a thing, and how we were going to continue to keep the lights on and the fridge stocked at home.
I have been so lucky to have a small client base to work for. I love my clients and I really like the varied work that I am doing. There are definite advantages to being able to work on my own schedule. I have been able to be present with my kids so much more than before. I get more sleep. I can shop for groceries in the middle of the day. All good things.
There are also hard things. I continuously get asked what I do and I flounder every time. I have no trouble explaining and promoting the companies that I work for, but telling people that I am a freelance communications whatever feels lame. I don’t know why. Is it shame?
I honestly thought that in six months I would feel a bit more settled, that this would feel like “real life.” But there are days more often than not when anxiety creeps in and takes hold. The what-ifs start screaming louder in my head: what if all my clients don’t need me anymore? What if I’m not really good at this? What am I doing? Is this where I’m supposed to be? If I stay away from the corporate world for too long will I ever be able to go back? Do I want to go back?
And then the doubts: you’d probably be better off if you’d just stayed where you were. Are you really happy doing this? Maybe this was a terrible decision. You’ll never succeed at anything, this is all headed for another crash.
There are good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. Last week was a rough week. Learning how to handle the highs and lows of this transition is something I still suck at. I suck even more at self-care. I had a very good friend call me out about it in a Facebook message last week, and I will be forever grateful that she noticed and felt comfortable messaging me about it. I needed to hear it.
Truth is, it’s easy to stop doing those things that were helping me because they seem really selfish and I feel guilty, so I continue pushing out important activities of self-care to fill that time with things that make me feel more productive. One of those things is meditation. I wrote a post about my meditation practice and how it has helped me HERE. The last few weeks, I have meditated maybe a few times a week, usually not at all. I decided today to get back into it.
I pulled up my Insight Timer app, set the filter to 10-15 minute meditations and found one called “Loving and Listening to Yourself” by Sarah Blondin. It started out with her saying “I love you, I’m listening to you” over and over. It seemed hokey at first, and then as she continued the meditation it was really powerful. It ended with me repeating “I love you” over and over to myself.
I don’t think I’ve ever told myself “I love you.” Definitely not out loud. And “I’m listening to you?” Nada, nope, never. However, the more I delve into this journey, the more I realize that leaning on anyone for things that I lack (courage, guidance, love)—even my most trusted friends and family members—is not a sustainable strategy. It’s not that they don’t love me, I know that they do. But humans are human, and that kind of void isn’t something that is ever going to stay filled, no matter how many times you ask someone to fill it up.
Jesus said there were two commandments that were the greatest, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As yourself. As you love yourself.
How well do I love myself? Do I love myself?
I’ve heard this verse a million times over 40 years, and I’ve always assumed that what Jesus was getting at was a version of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But, as always, the words of Jesus can mean many different things—depending on the translator. I think what he might have been getting at, for some of us, is that we are super-awesome at taking care of our neighbors and friends and we really suck at taking care of ourselves.
Love yourself as you love your neighbor. –Jesus
I crowd-sourced on social media the other day to see how my friends take care of themselves. My sweet soul sister Judy offered this, and it spoke directly to my heart:
“I believe self-care starts with my honest definition of self-care and if I value it, and if I don’t value it, why? What do I value? Name calling, like lazy or guilty is not fair to myself or others. I believe doing nothing, is doing something! But I’ve had to practice this. If we can adopt this belief, we’d be more healthy. Spending the early morning reading, being quiet, & praying, helps me gain the perspective I value, instead of performing throughout the day, to prove I’m not lazy or guilty of something, that I don’t even value!! It’s hard to go against what we are all taught in our society, however. We need to value rest and learn to enjoy rest, or we will never do it. We do what we value – healthy & unhealthy.”
Would I tell a friend she was lazy and should feel guilty for taking time out of the day to do something for herself? Heck no! I would encourage it and tell her how awesome she is and how much she deserves it.
So, I’m going to try to be more intentional to be kinder to myself. To listen to myself. To love myself. And to give myself the same grace, time, attention and care that I share with those closest to me. It’s going to take a while, and we probably won’t agree on everything, but I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. With me.
What are ways that you show yourself love? Please share in the comments!