Self-care. A popular, romanticized term hogged by celebrities, lifestyle bloggers, and millennial females all verbalized as a cure to troubleshoot life’s problems, fix imperfections, and repair insecurities.
Self-care is the prescribed medication to combat the life trenches we tend to unknowingly spiral into. These life trenches, which I commonly refer to as “funks”, no one is immune to.
And since no one can entirely avoid these funks, society decided to construct a one-stop shop to combat them: self-care.
The ‘self-care remedy’ yields many forms. Society’s form is one to address, challenge, and reconsider. Today’s world publicizes a senseless illusion of self-care. It implies we must take care of ourselves through gel manicures, extra-long bubble baths, indulging in guilty pleasures, and spending frivolous money. Treat yourself, right?
Spending a little more on your favorite scented candles or picking up an extra bottle of wine are harmless forms of self-care in its simplest terms. However, this form of remedy is not truly soul-seizing enough to alleviate any type of life slump. Self-care, as interpreted by society, is inconsistently fleeting.
True self-care is heart-wrenchingly difficult, all-consuming, lengthy, and vastly overwhelming. Not what you wanted to hear, right? Me either. The extra-long bubble-bath seemed like a good solution.
The wine nights, cleanses, long walks, and face masks certainly assist in temporarily uplifting our spirits. The material substance is sometimes essential to provide short-term relief.
Personal growth, on the other hand, takes a lifetime. Take it from a 22-year-old.
Today’s media refuses to reveal that authentic self-care requires looking in the mirror with specified intent to acknowledge the indisputable parts of our soul. It mandates that we identify the fabrics of our being in order to admit the tangible reasons we meet discontent. It drives us to face a raw form of reality and detect details hidden far beneath any surface layer we expose to the world.
True self-care is not effective as a band-aid fix but requires a candid examination into an ugly wound and subsequently, planning proactive steps towards healing. It’s understanding what makes you happy. Happy-happy. Not the happy we tend to emulate through an Instagram post. The happiness in question, should encompass your values and simultaneously fill your heart to an indescribable extent. Growing up, the majority of us aimed for the happiness simulated through popularity. In our careers, we may translate happiness in terms of wealth and success. Take this as a personal challenge to define your ‘happy’.
For me, it boils down to a variety of things I feel wholly connected to. A profound, personal occurrence happens through writing. Producing content, whether through music, writing, or art is empowering. To purge the ideas that cross through my mind as I get ready in the morning into a complete set of thoughts is stimulating and offers a creative outlet for personal expression. Putting thoughts into words and those same words into stringy sentences, satisfies a need to produce substance that doubles as personal reflection. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no artist, but if true artists hid behind insecurities that limited the exposure to their creativity, our apartment walls and party playlists would be annoyingly dull. Even though I probably achieve about three-readers per post (thanks, mom!), the intent of my writing is to fill my soul, not yours. Selfish, huh? Bingo. We’re talking about self-care here.
There’s a quote that says, “You cannot pour from an empty cup. You must fill your cup first.” How can we expect to build relationships or share our personal talents with others if we are desperately lost in our own lives? Are we deemed un-lovable if we don’t love ourselves first? These questions reveal why self-care is critical and goes way beyond bubble baths.
Self-discovery hits hard when we initially reach adulthood and continues to be insistent and demanding as we shift between life transitions. Self-revelation reaches us in unique ways and begs us to be honest at different crossroads in our lives. Regardless, it forces all of us to be brutally sincere with ourselves in order to uncover the source of our personal happiness.
Self-care, regardless of what the grammar implies, is a journey not meant to face alone. Self-care requires the genuine involvement of those you trust. The same people who recognize you at your core, help you embrace life uncertainties, and conquer the chapters that terrify you. God certainly didn’t create 7 billion people to force us to go through this extensive process alone. Seek out the people who not only bring you dark chocolate when you’re spiraling, but that primarily extend a listening ear with no selfish agenda.
True self-care is ongoing. It not only takes thoughtful effort, but a dedicated, consistent investment of time. But who has time to spare? When we disregard or ignore the need for true self-care, the best version of ourselves grows farther away. It becomes easy to prolong these life funks by dwelling on our personal doubts. The more we reinforce these doubts to others, the further they develop into false truths. This is where the spiral takes form of self-sabotage. When we face self-doubt, it is important to focus on revival versus survival. Survival is transient. Revival centers around a longer-term solution that builds a long-lasting foundation.
When we are revived, we have the ability and desire to give back to others. Our cup becomes full once again, but only when we have found durable substance.
Self-care can be unbeautiful but is the very pre-requisite to a beautiful life.