Sometimes, you need to put yourself before others. No, that’s not being selfish; it’s called self-care.
I know this seems like a random topic, but for whatever you do- be it write, dance, teach, or even sit in an office all day, you still need to take care of yourself. It’s like those oxygen masks on the airplane: you’ve got to help yourself before you can help others.
So why self care this week? You may have noticed I didn’t post something last week- and I apologize for that- but there’s been some personal drama, where I finally learned to walk away.
I joined a mentorship program that had just formed, last year, and at the end of it, applied for, and accepted a public relations position on the executive/core board. At the beginning of 2016, inter-board relations slowly crumbled. I was being assigned design jobs without direction, and when I presented my flyer, they deemed it “too simple”- something they could have made on PowerPoint. It “didn’t reflect my skill level” of Photoshop. They also had another board member do their own design, and ultimately chose the other design over mine. Without consulting me, they submitted the flyer for printing. I didn’t see the final design until I got curious and checked the sent mail. I almost died from the poor design. So much for respect and teamwork.
I pulled aside the board head and told them, confidentially, “I feel like the other person is trying to take my job.” Later that night, I received a text from someone else saying, “I don’t think they are trying to take your job.” There went the confidentiality.
Anyone can put words on the page- words are already created- they just need to be chosen well, but coming up with a design from nothing is something else. Not everyone can do that, and they could not.
After our spring break, I received a barrage of texts from the “someone else” mentioned above, about my absence during fundraising last term. The times were all arranged during my classes; I was not going to skip class to sit at a table and fundraise. It concluded with “To summarize our concerns, we question your commitment, ability to take initiative, and your skills as a designer, and these are all things that I’m sure we can all talk about.”
I have designed yearbook spreads for 4 years now, and am a design intern. Do not question my skills as a designer, please.
I began distancing myself from the program: all their previous actions have proved I’m not a necessary team member on the board, so if they don’t need me, I see no reason to make them want to need me.
This past month, I was checking off items on my study abroad checklist: health clearance, police travel clearance, etc, and found out my driver’s license was expired: the earliest appointment I could make with the DMV was on a Friday afternoon, a time which would conflict with the program; the same came up with my doctor’s appointment. When a informed the board of my appointments, I was asked if I “couldn’t schedule [my] Friday appointments on a weekend”, and without a valid driver’s license, no I cannot. I must depend on others to take me where I need to be, and that, in itself is an inconvenience; I’m asking for a favor already, they are not my chauffeur.
Ultimately, I handed in my resignation after that. School comes first, and even then, I do have other extracurriculars I can enjoy, and where I can be respected. For me, the board was too emotionally (and physically) exhausting. Accommodating everyone’s schedule meant board meetings were late at night, and with 9am classes every day, that does not leave much time for sleep when we meet 2-3 hours at a time.
That’s my journey of self care. It took about 15 weeks to realize that while I had worked well with them last year, and we had become close, I did need to come first. Now I’ll have an extra 5-6 hours in the week to dance, draw, write, or work.
Take a look at your life: is something holding you back, or holding you down? Maybe it’s time to say goodbye. Are you just holding on because you’ve been there for so long, or because it’s really worth the fight? Think about it.