Post Grad Duck #22
Text: “Do you want to hangout tonight?”
Response: “Aw man, I wish, but I already have plans. Sorry!”
If you’re anything like me, then you’ll know how awkward it can feel when sending a “no, thank you” text. For some reason, I’m convinced that if I say “no” then I’m essentially committing social suicide. I won’t ever get invited to another social event and all of my friends will hate me, or worse—all of my friends will think that I hate them. It’s a bit ridiculous, is it not? Tell me these thoughts have not once crossed your mind.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think it’s really a matter of thinking that people will hate us, or vice versa. Rather, I think it’s more of a disbelief in the idea that we deserve to have a night at home in our pajama’s, post bubble bath, curled up with popcorn, and laughing far too loudly at the characters on Parks & Rec. Now, should we spend every night this way? No, because we absolutely need community and exercise, but we also need time to ourselves.
As a young person who gets the privilege of interacting with other young persons on a daily basis, the subject of self care comes up quite often. It almost feels like a taboo phrase on a college campus, though. Self care?! What is that? How does one take care of self when school work must be complete? *cue red flashing lights, a warning siren, and a robotic shut down* The idea of taking care of ourselves, sadly, sends us into instant turmoil, rather than ease and comfort.
Recently, I had a conversation with one of my freshman girls and it went something like this:
Me: “So how has your week been so far?”
Her: “Busy! I’ve had a lot of work to do for my classes on top of several club meetings back to back.”
Me: “Aw man. It’s that point in the semester where things begin to pick up, huh?”
Her: “Yeah, it sucks.”
Me: “Hmmm…so what do you do to cope with this stress?”
Her: “What do you mean?”
Me: What is something you do in terms of self care, an activity that calms you and is good for your mental stability?”
She looked at me sort of puzzled. I think she understood the question, but didn’t really have an answer, so I tried to clarify even further.
Me: Let me rephrase, do you take time during the week to spend alone, not doing anything related to school or clubs?”
Her: Uhmm…sometimes, but it’s hard cause I’m so busy. I feel relaxed when I take a shower! That’s probably when I’m the least stressed.”
Before I answered, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t say anything to shame her or to speak without thinking. But I was sad. I was sad because I understood exactly where she was because I have been there (and sometimes still am). I was also sad because in her statement, this girl had inadvertently admitted that the only time she can justify giving to herself is a shower, probably lasting no longer than 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES!
Me: You’re worth more than a shower!
We all deserve more than a shower. Self care extends far beyond that. If we don’t know how to take care of ourselves, then how can we truly know how to take care of other people?
At the beginning of this post, I talked about that awkward “no, thank you” text. But let me pose a question, how many of you actually type “no, thank you” when someone texts you and asks if you want to hang out? I know, I don’t. In my mind, that’s rude, and I have to have a reason for not participating in the desired activity. Me not wanting to, or being too tired, or wanting to spend some time alone isn’t good enough. But that’s a lie.
I think that self care and saying NO are directly correlated in that we struggle to say NO to other people because we’ve used up all of our “NOs” on ourselves. But here’s what we need to understand: It is okay to say NO to other people and YES to yourself.
If you consider yourself to be a follower of Christ, consider Luke 22:39-41. It says, “And he (Jesus) came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed…” There is much that is significant about this passage, but it is important to note that Jesus separated himself from his friends to go talk with his Father. He understood that He needed to commune with God and took the necessary measures to do so. Verse 45 says this, “and when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples…” It was not until after Jesus had spent time alone, taking care of himself, praying, that He spent time talking to his friends.
Jesus wasn’t being selfish or ignoring those around Him, He was doing what He needed to take care of himself in order to take care of other people. *SPOILER: It is after this time in prayer that Jesus gets arrested and eventually crucified (the ultimate act of taking care of a people so loved by paying for their every sin on the cross).
So what are you saying, Jayna? I need to take care of myself so that I can be like Jesus and take care of others? Well, in a word, yes! But I’m also suggesting that we take care of ourselves because Jesus died for us to live life and live it more abundantly. He didn’t sacrifice His life for us to be stressed out and mentally exhausted. Rejoice friends, Jesus delights in our self care! We deserve more than a shower and a night of Netflix because Jesus loves us.
[Dear Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Help me to take care of myself so that I can properly take care of and love others. You’re a good, good Father.]