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WHAT'S IN FRONT OF ME IS MYSELF
figuring out who i am & what i want
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There has been a particular uneasiness in my body since April. The impending excitement of my graduation turned to panic about what’s next. The panic about what’s next became a declaration of my snail era. Now, my snail era can see the truth of commitment and obligation on the horizon.
On the drive through Utah, I found myself saying that I have been putting spoons toward things that do not replenish me for too long. I spent the first half of my vacation finishing a draft for a freelance piece and shooting content for a brand partnership. Writing has always, and will always, fills me up-even if I have to adjust a deadline to honor my capacity. Brand partnerships, for the most part, drain me. I do a handful of them that bring me joy because I truly believe they will help someone. Still, nothing reminds me more of the cog of capitalism than being told a photo I took of myself with a fucking vibrator “isn’t what the team is looking for.” This is just a small example, but I have to be really careful where I put my spoons.
Now that I have graduated, I am having the classic “what am I going to do with my life” panic. I have a freelance career I am proud of, but I am noticing that all of my thoughts are going toward how to build out my business. It’s true, this is something I need to do because we live in capitalism, and it’s something that I want to do because I am excited about so many creative projects, but what I know I need to do next is really, and truly, learn how to take care of my body.
As much as I want to ignore it, my body is ill. I keep telling myself I can push through it, and because I have an autoimmune disease known to go into remission for periods of time, it’s easy to convince myself that it’ll never happen again. But it always does. When I approach spoons with a laissez-faire attitude, my body reminds me, and I allow myself to run on empty for too long.
Take this trip, for example. I’ve been fighting off a flare, or let’s be honest, I’m refusing to believe I’m in the middle of a flare and am trying so desperately not to let my chronic illness take this vacation away from me. Luckily, I am in LA for a couple of days. DJ flies home tomorrow, and I can sit with myself and go my pace without feeling guilty about holding someone back.
Taking care of myself can no longer be a passive endeavor. This is the part about mental health, chronic illness, and all-around wellness that people don’t talk about enough. It takes a lot of hard work to take care of ourselves. We can’t simply take the medication or feed ourselves vegetables or drink water or take a walk or have our hobbies or creative passions or go to therapy or have a social life–we have to figure out how to do all of them, just the right amount that isn’t draining or depleting. I feel like I’m relearning how to do this now that I have more of my time back. I don’t know how to do it all.
How can I be an active participant in my care to then have enough energy to be an active participant in my life? I fear other people's disappointment if I say no to things, so I almost always say yes. Then, I regret some things I say yes to because it means I can’t say yes to what I want. Then I change plans and felt shame about that too.
Sometimes, I don’t even know what I want. I’ve been battling a lot of decision fatigue recently–even about things so small as choosing what to eat. I have difficulty deciding if I need to rest or push through. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been scared of making the wrong decision lately. So I’m frozen and passively letting things happen a lot of the time. Going through the motions, I don’t feel like I know myself anymore. Sometimes taking care of myself feels like walking through a haunted house with my eyes shut because I’m too scared to look at what’s in front of me. What’s usually in front of me is myself.
Maybe this is what being in the nitty-gritty of the snail era is. Maybe this is my Saturn return talking. Whatever it is, there’s no other way out than through. But when walking through it, I want my eyes to be wide open.
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