The past few weeks I have noticed a trend between myself, a few friends and people on social media expressing how "burnt out" is an almost everyday feeling. For me, lately trying to balancing work, traveling and running around helping everyone else out, has left me with little to no energy.
Towards the end of last week I caved. I reached a breaking point and felt like I needed to draw the line somewhere. I decided that I need to make myself more of a priority. I had a difficult time at first. I thought that this was some sort of selfish act, but in reality it is the most selfless act. How can we expect to achieve greatness, support friends and family or make a difference if we are barely getting by ourselves? I took a long hard look at everything in my life. I reflected on everything from work to how I spend my free time. I said goodbye to a few people in my life, handed off projects I could not devote as much time to and started focusing on what I need to do and who I need to surround myself with, in order to achieve my goals and dreams. Ed Sheeran recently
release his new album, "Divide". One of the tracks on the record is called "Save Myself". Listening to the song, I was able to partially relate to the lyrics. I may not be dependent on "prescription pills", but I was convicted by the overall message, and need to put myself first. It was reassuring and I felt a great amount of relief when I listened to this song because it was a reminder that a lot of people struggle with this issue and I'm not alone in feeling the way I was feeling. If someone as talented and successful as Ed Sheeran needs to remind himself to focus more of his time and energy on him, then I can do this too. My favorite part of the song- as sad as it may be, is the first verse. He is examining himself and the journey he has recently walked. He sings about giving people things they already had, leaving him with nothing in return, about financially supporting someone and now not having contact with him or her. He then goes on to challenge the people or person in his life by asking if they would do the same things for him, that he would be willing to do for them.
What was the most conflicting the past few days, was deciding to walk away from a couple friends. I decided that I'm tired of bending over backwards for people who wouldn't do the same for me. I'm sick of the unnecessary and avoidable anxiety those few people were bringing me. I'm exhausted from the constant mood swings and belittlement from someone calling me a "friend". I'm over being made to be someone's metaphorical punching bag. But mostly, I was tired of feeling used. I seemed to have been a good enough friend for someone when they needed a ride or to pay for their meals. I seemed to be the "best friend" when I was supporting their dream and filling up their car with gas. I was good enough to talk to when I was making it about them. I was good enough to call when they needed to complain. I was the one they thought of when they needed something done to further their dream or career goal. Yet, whenever something wonderful happened to me, they were the first to ignore my excitement and turn away.
Once I stopped sending the "I hope you have a great day" texts, encouraging messages, and checking in, I was left with their silence. At first it was hard, but now I see it as a blessing. If someone, no matter who it is, can not make me a part of their life for even 5 seconds, (hello, Snapchat is perfect for this) then why would I want them in my life at all? Friendship is not one way. In fact, it takes effort from both people. I was exhausted from pulling all the weight.
I didn't realize that by not putting up more boundaries and taking the time for me, I was cheating my other friends and projects out of the best version of myself. It's not fair to my other friends if I allow these negative factors to infiltrate our healthy friendships and activities. Someone very important to me told me how she feels sad hearing about certain things with these other "friends". She told me that it's okay to feel left out- she felt like this at first and sometimes still does. Having this person, someone who's opinion and advice I truly value tell me that she sees how stressed I am, was a wake up call. I realized that putting myself first does not mean I was a bad person before. It means that I have evolved and even outgrown a couple relationships and hobbies. One week into making the new changes and I am already significantly less stressed and more "me" than I have been in a few weeks. Overall, I feel proud to say that I put myself first and I am pursuing the things that make me truly happy.
You do not deserve to let friends belittle you or walk all over you.
You do not deserve on again and off again friendships or any kind of relationship.
You do not deserve someone making you feel guilty for your skill set or talent.
You do not need to keep someone in your life who builds you up, just to tear you down.
You do not need to explain yourself to anyone.
You do not owe anyone an explanation for deciding to eliminate a toxic friend from your life.
You do not need to feel guilty for putting yourself first.
And neither do I.
This Week's Challenge:
Take care of Y-O-U. Put yourself first. It is not selfish to make sure you are fully functioning and happy. If you can not take care of yourself and love yourself, how can you expect to do the same for others? You can not do great things, if you do not feel great.