Life recently has been difficult. I had university deadlines, my work-life balance was almost non existent, my meals weren't anywhere near as nourishing and healthy as I would have liked, and in the middle of March I became incredibly ill. Whether this was a result of all of the above combined I am not certain, but what I am certain of is that it made me take a step back and really evaluate what is important in my life and what really isn't worth burning yourself out for. Sometimes it can be hard to admit that where we are and where we always thought we would want to be is far from where we actually want to be. Past weeks have felt like a struggle, moving two steps forward, one step back. I have to remember that that is still one step forward. Still one step in the right direction.
Somewhere along the line over these past few weeks I seemed to have forgotten myself: forgotten those stollen moments of relaxation, those little things in life that really make me happy. It wasn't until I finished my work placement last Friday and I suddenly had hours of unfamiliar freedom stretching before me that I realised quite how much I had neglected this special time. Life got in the way, as it so often does, but now I have five months that I am going to fully dedicate to ME. Time to reflect on exactly how far I have come, how much hard work I have put in and the amazing results I have seen out of it. Time for my blog, time for my baking, time for photography and drawing and baths and walks. Time to make up for all those sleepless, stress filled nights over the past year of my life.
So much 'me time' seems, at surface level, selfish. Women's health put it perfectly in their last issue, stating 'by embracing downtime, we perceive ourselves to be wasting time. Busyness is a badge of honour, often to the detriment of our own health and relationships'. But what really is the point in being so infinitely busy that you never actually have time to step back and reflect on what you have been so busy achieving? My problem is I am so eager to please all the time that I often find myself committing to things that deep down I know I don't want to commit to. I spent many years of my life partaking in responsibilities that made me miserable just because I found it hard to say no. From a young age we are taught that selfishness is an undesirable trait; we must share our toys and food, we must include everyone in our games, we must accept that we can't always get our own way... and although these are all valuable lessons, they also inadvertently teach us to feel guilty when deciding to put our own needs ahead of others, to feel narcissistic and self centred to take time for ourselves. So yes, care for others and be kind, but don't do this at the detriment of yourself. Selfishness in this sense is not selfish at all, but selfless. To care for yourself, to prioritise your own happiness and to most importantly love yourself how you wish to be loved by another is essential for a mentally healthy, fulfilling and rounded life.
The bottom line is, despite its bad rep, being selfish really isn't a negative trait. No one else can care for yourself in the way that you can. No one else can look after your body, health and mind better than you, and ultimately taking time to do the things you enjoy will make you an all round happier person.