Checking in: The many and varied forms of self care

No, really: selfies are a 100% necessary aspect of self care.
No, really: selfies are a 100% necessary aspect of self care.

“Self care” has become kind of a buzz term over the last several years. That isn’t a bad thing; in fact, I think self care is one of the most important commitments a person can make. Taking time to check in with yourself and do something that makes you feel good is really, really important, even if it’s just taking a ton of selfies because you feel good in what you’re wearing. For a long time, I’ve associated self care with the “treat yourself” mantra. I do think the two go hand-in-hand to a pretty significant extent, but I’ve also found over the last few months that for me, it’s also really important to pay attention to how I’m feeling at any given moment about any given thing. It’s important to know where my insecurities lie, and why, and how I can live my life without becoming paralyzed by those insecurities.

For me, self care isn’t just bubble baths and fancy pasta for dinner (though sometimes it is, at its core, a glass of wine in a hot tub after a hellish work week). It’s also taking risks to better myself, making terrifying phone calls, asking for advice on how to do adult things from people who make their living giving that kind of advice, and ultimately, taking care of things to seriously improve my situation. I don’t feel comfortable blasting specifics on the Internet about everything I’ve been doing over the last several weeks to get my life in order, but I will say this: in the last two months, I’ve changed full-time jobs, sold my primary form of transportation, moved into a new apartment, and sought out a second job to help with finances. I took a look at my life two months ago and said, “something has to change”. Then I opted to basically change it all.

To the casual observer, I appear to be a fairly impulsive, adventurous person. At the age of 18, I moved 3,000 miles across country to go to college after being born and raised in the same little tourist town, only traveling to neighboring states until jumping on a plane to visit my parents in New Hampshire right before my senior year in high school. My senior year in college, I traveled to the Philippines alone. Last year, I moved to Rhode Island to live with my partner. Last month, I turned my life upside-down once more.

These decisions are misleading. I’m not really an impulsive person at all. I’m very much a homebody with a deep commitment to commitment. I don’t like mass amounts of change. That being said, I’ve discovered that when I get too comfortable, I become paralyzed with fear of change. That’s not healthy. That’s not okay. So the question is, how do I accept change into my life in little pieces so that when the big changes come, they’re less scary? I think the key is going to be checking in with myself on a regular basis — if not daily (because I’ll be honest, I’m not that on top of things), then at the very least weekly.

Another key to this process of adjusting to change as it comes rather than refusing to acknowledge it until situations become super dire is going to be (you guessed it) self care. It’s going to be serious levels of self care in the form of doing things I love (reading books, baking, cooking, making blog posts, making mixtapes, listening to new music, occasionally binge-watching television shows, keeping up with friends). It’s going to be writing in a journal when I’m feeling overwhelmed and even just to chronicle experiences in my life. It’s going to be aggressively tackling debt so that I can someday go back to school and maybe, just maybe, open the business I’ve started to dream about. It’s going to be walking every day (partially because I have to, now that I don’t have a car, but partially because I’ve found that it makes me feel really good). It’s going to be cuddling with my cats when I’m not yet ready to get out of bed but also getting things done so that I don’t get stressed out about wasting time.

I’ve always been a very driven person, but some circumstances have caused me to drift a little bit for the last few years. I feel as if I’ve grown up significantly in the last two months, moreso than I have since before I graduated from college. I finally feel like I’m developing again, learning and growing and changing into someone I want to be (someone I’ve always been, maybe). I finally feel like I’m properly learning what adulthood means and how to navigate it. It’s a scary thing. Terrifying, actually. But I feel good about things in a way I haven’t for a very long time.

Today I’m attempting some new recipes and watching Netflix’s “Sense8” in my underwear. I’m snacking on a little chocolate and earlier I called my best friend of over a decade just to say hi, rather than to cry over the 3,000 miles separating us about how everything is falling apart. It isn’t falling apart, not anymore, and that feels… incredible. I don’t have it all figured out just yet. There is still a lot that I have to take care of. But I have a plan, and it’s a pretty solid one, and that’s better than I’ve had in a long while.

I wrote this post with the intention of talking about how self care, for me, has turned out to be more about being productive and taking care of business than soaking in a bathtub or indulging in extra calories for dinner on a bad day. I don’t know if I actually accomplished that, but… here I am, 25 years old and starting to properly integrate into the adult world, putting the past behind me and focusing on the present and the future. I guess that’s a decent thing to write a blog post about, too.

Checking in: The many and varied forms of self care

The last two months

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The bike path near our apartment offers beautiful views. (My pasty legs ruin them, though.)

Today, I looked at The Verbal Thing for the first time in a while. I logged into WordPress, went to my dashboard, approved some Pingback comments and realized that I haven’t published a post since March (despite having plenty of drafts to work from). At first, I was irritated with myself. For a while, I was doing really well with publishing regular posts, fleshing out my content and making this space more of what I’ve wanted it to be since it was first conceived. But then, I realized that my two most recent posts were published the week that I packed up my belongings, left my parents’ house in New Hampshire and moved to Rhode Island.

It’s been just over two months since those last two posts were published, and in that time, I’ve learned a number of life lessons, both expected and really unexpected. Living on your own, post-grad, with actual bills is totally different than “living on your own”, in college, eating all of your meals at a dining hall and never having to worry about whether the dorm will have heat or Internet or cable access. Rather than bore you with all of the details of these Very Interesting Lessons (because as we’ve established, I’m kind of a drama queen and not always a very good storyteller), I’ve decided to just… make a list.

Things I Learned at Ages 23-24, After Leaving My Parents’ House, To Live in a Totally Different State with My Best Friend

  1. It is never a bad idea to check your tires for air pressure and wholeness before leaving somewhere (be it your apartment, your place of work, the gas station, the mechanic, the grocery store, anywhere).
  2. It is an especially good idea to pay attention to noises your car is making and take it to a mechanic if those noises are particularly worrisome.
  3. It is always going to be mind-numbingly expensive to fix your car, no matter how well it seems to drive, especially when you lived on a dirt road for two years and have now moved to a state where the potholes are numerous and wide enough to swallow your vehicle whole.
  4. Living away from your parents means that there is no one to yell at you for not doing the dishes.
  5. Despite how awesome #4 sounds in theory, the dishes still, in fact, have to get done. Eventually, you start yelling at yourself to do them, just so you don’t have to think about them anymore.
  6. Cleaning something really thoroughly makes you feel really, really good about your day.
  7. Baking soda is, in fact, an inexpensive but effective miracle cleaner.
  8. Some vacuums require assembly.
  9. Ikea furniture will cause arguments that seem silly, but are ultimately about things that are much bigger than The Fact That You Didn’t Put the Drawer Together Correctly and Now It Can’t Be Fixed.
  10. Communicating with your roommate is of the utmost importance, including (and especially) when you are both frustrated and don’t really want to communicate at all.
  11. You can subsist on nothing but grilled cheese and quesadillas for days at a time.
  12. You cannot do everything completely on your own. Asking for help does not equate with failure.
  13. Doing laundry at the local laundromat is disgustingly expensive.
  14. To amend #12, most things are disgustingly expensive. You still have to pay for them.
  15. There might not always be Enough Money, but in the end, you will always Figure It Out.
The last two months

Mixtape: I hope you wanna let go

Accidental matching move-in day flannels.
Accidental matching move-in day flannels.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that moving is a pain in the ass. I had never truly realized just how much moving sucks until this week, when I packed up all my stuff and drove it from my parents’ house in the middle of New Hampshire to my new apartment in Rhode Island. Actually, let me amend that — I made one trip down a couple weeks ago with about half of my stuff, and attempted to cram the other half into my sub-compact car two days ago. Needless to say, even with my mom’s professionally-honed moving (a.k.a. Real Life Tetris) skills, I had to leave some stuff behind.

I’m currently working on developing a new Internet space with my new roommate, AR, to document all of our fun apartment projects. I also start a brand new job tomorrow morning and soon, we get to go shopping for furniture so that there are actual places to sit! My goal is to write a more in-depth, extensive post chronicling my moving experience soon, but for the time being, I wanted to share the mix I finished today in honor of the occasion.

As much as I love my parents, I never had any intention of moving back in with them after I graduated college. I intended to move to a city, go to graduate school, become a professor and read a lot of Shakespeare. I’ve written before, in other places on the Internet, about the wide-eyed naivete with which I entered college, expecting everything to be just like my dreams once I left. But now I’ve officially moved out of my parents’ house and in with my best friend, and while that’s really amazing it’s also kind of terrifying. This mix contains some tunes that reflect those feelings:

Mix_MovingI hope you wanna let go

Mixtape: I hope you wanna let go