Coming into adulthood has been a whirlwind. I don’t know were the last few years of gone, but in a blink of an eye, I’m here. 22. A salaried job. Checks my credit score every 2 weeks. Graduated from college. So many other changes, some good, some bad. The love met with pain. In that process, I’ve had to learn when pushing myself is only hurting myself. A big part of this new system that I’m working on, I want to talk about wellness. Wellness doesn’t just mean working out and hitting a punching bag to make myself feel better. Wellness is about making my life better long-term and learning how to manage when stressful situations arise. Above all, it’s about learning when to take a break.
I don’t think that taking a break is in my DNA, and is definitely something more learned than inherited. Both of my parents are the hardest working people I know, and growing up, I don’t remember them taking a break, unless they were sick with the flu. That work ethic is something I took into school. Whether it was reading a book until the sun came up in the morning so I could beat the other kids in the Accelerated Reader program (if you know, you know) or taking the SAT until I finally got a score good enough for the competitive colleges I applied to, I never stopped. This ethic formed a lot of unhealthy habits that as a society, we don’t talk about. I played into a culture of go, go, go, but I never learned how to use the brakes.
Primark Mini Skirt || Zara Black Sweater || Nike Air Max Graviton Sneakers || Office Nina Black Block Heeled Sandals || Nisse AW/19 Gabor Red Reversible Puffer Coat (provided by Black PR in London )
Imagery by: Yossy Akinsanya
Eventually, I got to a point where there were too many things on my plate, but I still didn’t stop. That’s how I ran myself into the ground. I didn’t take care of myself and I was running on fumes, literally. It was not a healthy point in my life and I can point to many moments when I could have changed, but I made a conscious choice not to. Going into 2017, I continued down that same path, but in April, my world was rocked so hard that I had no choice, but to stop. I pressed pause on everything in my life for a month, family, friends, living. I’ve struggled to press play on my life, but this break was honestly the best thing for me.
I learned a lot more than I thought I would. When life gets busy, sometimes, it is good to take a moment and breathe. I learned that I’m not incapable of finding people who love me, but I’m also capable of giving love. Sometimes, I have to make a change in order to keep myself in the right headspace. There are people around me who want me to succeed. Sometimes, I have to remember to put myself out there and be helped, instead of pushing people away or letting those relationships die. I learned that I need to take a break and that’s okay.
Taking a break is a part of my overall wellness. I get to check in with myself and reconnect with the person I want to become and the path I’m on. The last break allowed me to grow up and fully embrace a lot of the things I’ve wanted to suppress in my life. I traveled the world, met so many new people, and made decisions that led me to today. Life isn’t always beautiful and perfect. The last few years taught me that. These years also taught me is that it’s okay not to be okay and to take a step back.
Learning when to take a break is a vital part of growing up in my eyes. My body and I got closer through meditation on Headspace, exercising, and pure exhaustion. When I become tired, I put my foot down. Instead of working through the exhaustion, I come home, take a long shower, and go to bed. When you learn how and when to take a break, you also learn how to not let other people push you past your boundaries. Defying external expectations is not easy. People will judge and think you aren’t working as hard.
In reality, when you know your body and your limits, you can be a more productive worker for the long-term, instead of burning out quickly. Taking a break is a part of creating a sustainable lifestyle, which is one of the biggest things I want going into the new year. I want a life that I can move forward with and where I know how to deal when things don’t go perfectly. My hope is that as we move into a new decade, everyone takes personal wellness a little more seriously, so as a society, we can move forward and everyone can smell the roses a little more often.