I was catching up on an episode of The F Word with Gordon Ramsay. Chef Ramsay was on a tear to show people how fast they could cook up healthy, fresh food. He found a group of nurses who ate microwaved convenience meals for dinner every night because thought that’s all they had time for. He saw the sorry state of affairs and said to them, “You’re acting too much like women. You’re taking care of everybody else, but you’re not taking care of yourselves.”
And yet, I am so very good at taking care of everybody else and so very bad at taking care of myself.
If I had a nickel for every article I’d read telling women that even airlines remind us to put our own masks on before helping anyone else, I’d have a stack of nickels reaching to the moon. And if you add in all the articles I’ve read telling women that they can’t fill others’ cups when their own cup is empty, that stack of nickels would reach back to the moon and back.
We’re just not getting the message. I think it’s ingrained at a much deeper level. At the level where we learn that femininity is being as small as possible, as quiet as possible, as nice as possible. Accommodating. Understanding. Bending yourself around what others want because your own wants and needs just aren’t as important.
I remember having a conversation with a massage therapist once where she asked me if I was taking good care of myself. And I said I was – I was getting a massage, after all. And I told her about some other stuff I was doing. And she said I wasn’t taking care of myself, that I was just pretending. I protested and she said, “Do you eat when you’re hungry? Do you sleep when you’re tired? Do you drink when you’re thirsty? Or do you do those things when you have the time?”
It’s funny, isn’t it? That we go around wearing our sleep deprivation and overworked-ness as badges of honor? But we think putting ourselves first is indulgent and decadent – a luxury we just can’t afford.
So I think, “I’ll go to yoga class next week once this big project is done.” Or “I’ll take some time to cook a healthy dinner tomorrow when I’m not so busy.” Or “I just don’t have time for a nap today because I have ALL THIS STUFF to get done.”
The problem is, of course, that I make these promises to myself every single day and I never get around to actually doing the things that take care of me.
That needs to change.
I’m going to start practicing taking time for myself every day. Every. single. day. No matter what else needs to be done. Because it’s important. Because I’m important. I am important. And so are you. So, who’s with me?
Image credit: Karl Cossio