Self-Care Isn't Always Pretty—and My 'Messy' Journey Taught Me That's OK
Is it just me, or have you ever noticed while scrolling through your Instagram and Facebook timelines just how blissful the self-care process seems to be for those around you?
Aromatic bubble baths on Sunday evenings, sage sessions each morning, lengthy paragraphs on how a week-long social media detox has changed their life. They’re all things that make me cry out in frustration because come on—it’s never truly that simple.
I’ve had to remind myself on many occasions that the path I’m on is designed specifically for me—whether certain moments are good or seem bad. I say “seem” because often times we (myself included) automatically perceive tough moments as negative, rather than taking a step back to see the lesson or enlightenment in them.
I had a pretty rough childhood impacted by a non-existent father, tumultuous relationship between my mom and stepdad, financial issues that left us without the lights on at times and, if that wasn’t enough, being bullied by my peers. All of this shaped my adult life, leading to an eventual anxiety disorder diagnosis and self-esteem issues.
I find myself working overtime to minimize my people-pleasing tendencies and to care less about what those around me think, which I realized takes time and practice.
I decided to look inward and truly take self-care seriously about two years ago.
Since then, I’ve gone through many ups and downs with my journey—highs where I felt I was finally making headway to becoming a “better person,” and lows in which I cried to myself wondering why I couldn’t just change. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that self-care isn’t about changing who I am, it’s about unearthing my greater potential, sense of self, purpose, and learning—instead of beating myself up about past mistakes.
The road to doing so hasn’t been an easy one filled with serene meditations, feel-good therapy sessions, and miracle clay masks. Instead, I broke down, sometimes more than once, in order to heal and build myself back up. Through that process of rebuilding, I revealed parts of myself that I had previously suppressed, which have helped me grow. I came to terms with the fact that self-care is a journey and I’ve learned to embrace all that comes along with it—even the messy parts.
Along the way, I’ve unearthed more than a few self-care myths worth calling out. Here are three big ones that came up in my journey:
Myth 1: Self-Care Is One-Size-Fits-All
What I’ve had to keep in mind is that self-care encompasses so many different aspects of one’s life.
For me personally, self-care is in nurturing my mental and emotional health, coupled with pampering and beauty routines that help me feel good on the inside and out. For others it may be navigating personal financial stability, homing in on physical fitness or quitting an unbearable job.
Nevertheless, no two paths are the same, so comparison is something that must be left at the door. Understanding that your journey is just that—your own, will play a major role in the level of progress you’ll feel along the way.
Myth 2: There’s No Room For Bad Vibes
For me, the most effective therapy sessions are not when I come in and discuss how happy I’ve been feeling lately. Instead, they’re the sessions when I realize something about myself or my past that moves me—often times to tears.
I’ve seen true change happen in my most uncomfortable and vulnerable moments. The times when I open up a part of myself that I’ve pushed so far back and deep down inside because it was linked to some sort of trauma—and instead, acknowledge it. I try to understand how it shaped me, choose to have closure, and from there propel myself forward.
Lasting healing happens when we embrace the uncomfortable and difficult times. Never has growth been achieved from an easy road without bumps along the way. Instead, those moments—often alone, in which we have to pick up the pieces and put them back together again, reveal our resilience. They reveal the person we are truly capable of being.
Myth 3: Self-Care Is a Quick Fix
Self-care isn’t something that can be done over-night. Hell, it isn’t even something that can be fully accomplished in six months or a year’s time. It’s a never-ending progression that simply evolves as you do.
Our needs are constantly changing, so of course the way in which we take care of ourselves should follow suit. My self-care routine today looks nothing like it did over two years ago when I first began. Continuous growth is part of life’s development, and there is nothing wrong with regularly indulging in this practice. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough, or that you are broken. This is you rediscovering your true and most remarkable self.
Read next: How I Automated My Self-Care Practice
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