In light of recent events in my personal life, I’ve been forced to truly focus on myself. A lot of people give me praise for how unselfish I am. I’ll go out of my way to help others in whatever way I possibly can. I feel pain and sadness when people I love are hurting. I care so much about other people, which seems like a good thing. I’m not saying that it isn’t. However, when it gets to the point where I constantly focus on other people and never focus on myself, that’s when it becomes an issue.
The other day I started thinking about why it is that I get anxious when I think of focussing on myself. Why is it that I will jump at the opportunity to help someone else, but run the other way when I need to help myself? Aside from the fact that I was raised to be unselfish and care for others, I had to do some digging to think of where else it came from.
I began thinking back, and I mean way back. I started thinking about if my body image issues were linked to my discomfort around self-care. That’s when I felt a lightbulb switch in my head. As I described in my post”My World of Dance,” I’ve had a complicated relationship with dance. I began to get in touch with my body from a very young age because dance is essentially communicating through your body. The complicated part is I constantly got messages that something was wrong with my body. That my body was something to be ashamed of, and something that needed to change. I was expected to dance with my heart and be confident and connected through my body. Well… it’s not really possible to be confident and connected in your body while simultaneously being told your body isn’t good enough. At least it wasn’t for me.
I feel like that’s what began the disconnect. In some respects, I had to be connected with my body to dance. But at the same time, I wanted nothing more than to have a different body, than to be in someone else’s skin. I hated that my body was holding me back from being the dancer that I wanted to be. It was heartbreaking.
Back to the lightbulb moment I mentioned earlier. Last night I was thinking about all of this and it finally clicked, it finally made sense to me. The reason I hate putting myself first, the reason I always avoid self-care as much as I can. It’s because, from a very young age, I felt ashamed of my body. I felt like my body was the barrier between me and my dreams. I didn’t want to take care of my body because I in no way felt I deserved it. To this day, that’s something I still struggle with. It’s gradually gotten better over the years, some days are better than others. But usually, I have to tell myself that I should wash my face because it’ll feel good, and it’s an important part of self-care. And yet, some days I feel I don’t deserve something as basic as washing my face. If I don’t even always feel like I deserve that, it’s no wonder I feel anxious when I spend too much time focussing on me.
If I go too long doing homework, or really any activity that’s focussed on me or my goals, eventually I get anxious. I get distracted and I have to stop. Not just because it’s helpful to take breaks during homework. But because it causes me anxiety to focus on myself and no one else for too long. It seriously felt like a lightbulb moment when I made that connection last night. For so long I’ve wondered, “Why is self-care so difficult for me? Especially basic stuff.” Well, it’s because for so long, ever since I was little, I had the belief that I didn’t deserve it. That I didn’t deserve to be taken care of or feel good about myself.
As I said earlier, I’m gradually making progress on this. It’s still something that’s really hard for me, but it’s slowly getting easier. I’m slowly realizing I have worth, a lot of worth actually. I’ve been through a lot and I absolutely deserve to take care of myself. Not that self-care is something that you need to earn, but to me, it sometimes feels that way. Regardless, at least now I finally know why self-care is so difficult for me. Why putting myself first causes me so much anxiety. But I genuinely want that to change. I want to believe that I deserve to be taken care of, especially by myself. I’m determined to heal my relationship with my sense of worth. As the beautiful and inspiring Demi Lovato would say, “What’s wrong with being confident?” Absolutely nothing!