Three Reminders for Self-Care Saturday
As humans, we so often forget about self-care. When we're in our darkest spaces, it's the most important thing to remember and the easiest thing to forget. Here are a few of my thoughts on how to reframe your thinking for Self-Care Saturday.
SELF CARE SATURDAY
Hello you beautiful conscious being,
We stereotype authors as depressed, eccentric, alcoholics. I suppose if I’m being truly transparent here, I’m not much of an exception, but this is a stigma that feels too close to the true me and many of my writing friends. While I offer this post as counsel and an expression of solidarity, rest soundly knowing that it’s hard for me to take my own advice. And pretty much every writer has trouble following their own advice, too. This brings me to my first point:
Humanity is imperfect
Perfectionism is an impossibility when you’re a human, which I’m assuming you are. If you’re not human, please tell me because I want to be friends. Probably. Anyway, as hard as it is to believe, even your favorite books and favorite authors and creators are not perfect. They too are human. So when you’re comparing yourself to others (because I see you, I do it too; we all do) remember that those people, those humans, have bad days, down days, high days, best days, and worst days, just like us. Stop expecting perfection from yourself.
Instead, set yourself up for success by acknowledging your humanity and using that to fuel your work. Let’s be honest, our favorite characters are rarely perfect. I say “rarely” because I know there is an exception to every rule, but let me also say that I can’t think of a character I’ve loved because they were perfect.
We love Sherlock despite his addictions. We adore the Doctors in Doctor Who despite their consistently fluctuating personalities. Harley Quinn? Who loves Harley Quinn because she’s a perfect villain? No one I know. They love her because she’s deeply flawed.
Take your mistakes, your experiences, your imperfections and use them to craft a deeply flawed, completely loveable character, and then remember that you can create those characters because of your own flaws. You are loved despite, and maybe even because of, your flaws. Just like Kaladin Stormblessed.
Success and self-worth are mutually exclusive.
This point admittedly feels redundant after my post earlier this month about discovering our “Why” as writers. Regardless, it’s important and bears repeating! One of my favorite books this year so far has been Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection by Haemin Sunim. In this book, Haemin Sunim, a Korean monk and Buddhist, shares his belief that every human life is precious. You are a consciousness born into the world and, therefore, are worthy of love. Does this mean everyone will love you? No. Of course not. Humans are fickle by nature. What it means is your worth is inborn to your being.
Success, on the other hand, is as mercurial as the human mind, because you are the one who determines your success. You might not have control over your sales figures (not directly anyway, that’s up to the spender mostly) but you control your concept of success. This goes hand-in-hand with point number one. Comparing your achievements to others’ will always make you feel less somehow. Because instead of staying grounded in your sense of success, you get wrapped up in someone else’s sense of accomplishment, which no offense most likely has zero to do with you.
As a personal example, I would love to be some six-figure author getting all the big book deals and spreading my stories across the world in several languages. Who doesn’t? But “success”, that obscure concept that only exists because I created it, doesn’t necessarily look like big-bucks-palooza.
Success is surrounding myself with a caring community. My children going to a school they love, and that I love for them, and my husband’s garden which brings him such joy, and my privilege to stay home and see it all unfold; that feels like success to me.
(Even though my personal circus is often the source of my madness. It’s cool though, I use the madness to drive my writing as well, and I have regular existential crises just like every other creator out there.)
To some readers, this might sound obvious while other readers are now googling whether Kat has a personality disorder. (That hasn’t been disproven, by the way.) But no, this isn’t part of my mental diagnosis. It’s actually just a normal part of the human experience. Our internal dialogue is ongoing for our waking hours, and a lot of the time, it’s just damned rude!
Have you ever had one of those days where you’re dropping everything and suddenly you’re fussing at yourself out loud. “Pull it together, Kat! You have five fingers! Use them!” Yeah, not so nice, right?
My best friend, Carolyn, and I have what I'm going to call an Accountability Rule. It’s a very simple rule, and it started as something we just used between us, but I’ve actually started implementing it on my own too. (At least when my headspace is far from my Major Depressive Disorder.) The rule is this:
Whenever Carolyn and I are chatting and one of us says something like, “I’m just being an idiot. This is clearly unimportant.” the other of us says, “Rephrase.” What do we mean when we say that?
We mean, “Say that again, but like you would say it to me.” Because there’s no way in hell I’m going to tell Carolyn, “You’re just being an idiot. This is clearly unimportant.” Who says that to a friend?! But how many times do we say that to ourselves? So yeah, the way you talk to yourself matters. The next time your internal dialogue is pulling punches, remind yourself to Rephrase and talk to yourself the same way you’d talk to your bestie.
I hope these three tips make it easier to take care of yourself this weekend. Because you are worthy of love. Especially from yourself.
Sending you hot tea and bubble bath vibes,