“If you’re like me, you need help navigating the self-help industry.
Pre-COVID, I couldn’t afford a spa day. And now? Who has the time to wake up earlier to journal when we’re trying to survive our new normal?
Sure, I wish self-care was as easy as a bubble bath or a glass of wine. But the problem is, the problems that kept me up at night kept coming back.
It took me years to learn that there’s only one self-care tip that I need to know, and it’s to stop asking yourself this one question:
When will I finally meet the person of my dreams? Land that promotion I deserve?
When will I be blessed with my third child? Finish the addition to my dream home and finally be happy?
…but self-care isn’t jumping from milestone to milestone.
Whether we’re single, married, with kids, without kids, or simply navigating our way through life, it’s time to stop asking — when?
If we fall victim to that toxic milestone mentality, we’ll always want the next big thing. And no matter how much we have and get, we’ll always feel empty. When we try to keep up at all costs, we sacrifice what we really want in the process, which is our own happiness.
Self-care might not be walking down the aisle. It might be walking away from a toxic relationship or marriage. It’s allowing ourselves opportunities for healthy relationships in the future.
Self-care might be gently explaining to your mom friends that it bothers you when they say, ‘Wait until you’re a mom one day.’ Maybe you don’t know if you can have kids or maybe you don’t want kids, but you’re still trying to figure that part of life out on your own timeline.
Self-care is working hard every day — even when you might not see immediate results. It’s investing in your startup business that no one knows about. It’s not showering for days because you’ve been on deadlines and maybe those pieces will be rejected. Self-care is trying your best no matter what.
It isn’t waiting for a socially distant invite from that popular mom group. It’s being kind and being yourself no matter who accepts you. It’s declining a dinner invitation because, no, you can’t afford it this month.
Self-care is stress, sacrifice, and vulnerability, and not always something you can show and share on social media.
And despite what the self-help industry might say, self-care is embracing that we do not have to feel happy 100% of the time.
I wish I could have told my younger self a long time ago: ‘Lisa, your life will start when you stop asking ‘when?’ all the time.’
Let’s embrace the messy and unpredictable parts of life, because hardships soften us as kinder individuals.
Let’s use our mistakes and pitfalls to propel us to greater accomplishments and more meaningful relationships we never thought imaginable.
Let’s accept that happy moments ebb and flow, and that life is not a roadmap of a straight line.
No matter where you are in life, let’s take a deep breath — and start digging deep into the life that’s happening around us right now.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lisa Cleary, a tough love self-help writer and author of How to Survive a Breakup: When all of your friends are birthing their second child. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from Lisa here:
‘Stop trying so hard with others who don’t make you feel right.’: Woman urges ‘find the friend who will walk with you through every season of life’
‘Dear mom, you’re never a bother. I love you, and what we have will always be special.’: Woman urges ‘tell your mom you love her’
‘Here’s to being 30 and married!’ Everyone lifted their glasses in unison. I drove home in tears, 33 and single.’: Woman faces ‘stigma’ for being ‘unmarried and childless’
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