By Kate Kole
My mom says (or if you’d prefer, my mama always said) that as a kid, I’d put to myself to bed when I got tired. Hopped up on Mountain Dew and Dunkaroos, I’d run myself ragged and then climb underneath the covers for an afternoon nap.
Still today, I crave rest when I’m running on empty. But, often times now, I’ll resist the urge. My mind reminds my body of all the things that need doing, and I power my way through the slump. On days when I do opt to lie down, either out of sickness or pure exhaustion, I’m greeted with a familiar, nagging guilt. Do you really have the time for this? Isn’t there something else you could be doing? That you should be doing?
Somewhere along the way, I picked up the perspective that busy is better, that my level of productivity directly correlates to my life’s purpose, and that what I accomplish in any given day is what I have to show for myself – for my worth.
Simple pleasures have become guilty at best and gluttonous at worst. It’s as if taking a nap, enjoying an ice cream sundae, soaking in a bubble bath, reading a Bachelor tell-all, wandering the aisles of Target, or watching reality TV require justification in the form of cheat days or treat yo’ self. Resting, playing, and delighting in life must be labeled in order to earn a spot on my schedule.
I’m not sure exactly when the flip switched – when I decided that I needed to work for and earn access to all the things that bring me joy. I miss the days that I didn’t feel the internal pressure to explain my actions or prove their value. That I didn’t have to defend baking and working out as the ways I relieve stress, or reading and writing as the ways I unwind. That I could simply do the things I love because I love them, and that in and of itself, was reason enough.
I’m done with the idea that being an adult means muscling through life as if there’s some prize at the end for the person with the most saved up sick days and the highest shown level of self-restraint. That medals get doled out to those with the lengthiest crossed-off TDLs and that shame is allotted to those who made time for the things that made their heart happy. If there’s space for meetings, taxes, oil changes, doctor’s appointments, deadlines, and laundry, then there’s gotta be space for long walks, coffee dates, relaxing, bad reality TV, good books, and deep conversations too.
While I don’t know when the cultural obsession with self-care surfaced, I’m over it as some hot new concept to introduce and pencil into my routine. Because, to be honest, it seems that I instinctively knew more about taking care of myself as a 4-year-old that I do as a 31-year-old. Back before I was concerned with earning my keep and protecting my image, I rested when I was tired, I read before bed, and I wrote, because putting pen to paper made me feel alive.
I want to get back to that place. To that girl who knew how to listen to and trust her body, heart, and soul, more than her mind and ego. And maybe that starts with just taking the damn nap, already.
featured image via pexels