Good morning all. What a week it has been. I took a mental health day earlier in the week due to my stress levels hitting fever pitch. All of the stress I was feeling was essentially self-imposed, but it was not any less real or painful to me. It’s a pattern I’m familiar with. When I was a kid athlete, I expected myself to succeed, win, and perform well. Always. If I did, I was on top of the world, but if not, I was despondent, angry, angst-ridden or some amalgamation of all those feelings.
I don’t know where it came from, this instinctive need to accomplish and achieve at all times. Certainly, my parents never outwardly expected anything beyond a healthy level of goal setting; rather, they just wanted me to be a healthy, happy, and kind individual. It always came from an internal drive that manifested itself in different ways depending on where I was at in my life. For many years, it was the violent mood swings from playing sports, whether I was on the starting line up or being benched for sassing the referees. It was a decade of endless eating disorder cycles. And now, it’s my need to conquer life and have it all figured out before I turn 30 this year.
And the theme continues. NO ONE expects this from me except for me. And in my “all work and no play mentality”, I found myself run into the ground, unable to utter a kind word to myself, making mistakes from my inability to focus, my shoulders wrenched, my heart beating frantically, and finally, unable to stop the flow of tears.
And then, it all broke and my body was forced to let it go. I finally felt the relief I’ve so desperately needed.
When I went back to the office after taking a day to decompress, I felt nothing but compassion and was grateful to get positive feedback from being vulnerable. It was the first time in awhile that I felt truly great about myself, because in sharing that with others, they felt comfortable sharing their own similar stories or struggles with me. This validation and connection far surpassed the joy of feeling “in control” all the time.
And so, my new goal will be focusing on self-compassion and reminding myself that I don’t need to be “on” or succeeding in the traditional sense all the time. I can accomplish my goals, but there’s no reason it needs to be all right now or on my terms.
I hope anyone that struggles with stress management and lack of self compassion finds some comfort in reading this. You’re not alone!
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