A couple of months ago, I felt like I was losing myself. As a twenty-something single person, there were probably several things that contributed to this feeling. But I couldn't put my finger on it. I had a career I loved, a family that cared for me, friends who I enjoyed spending time with. But I felt myself slipping away... I decided I needed an "escape from reality" so I packed my bags and headed to Banff, Alberta for a night. That decision was probably one of the best I've ever made.
This may seem trite, but that trip taught me (or at least reminded me) that life is never perfect. It will likely get stressful. If I don't take the time to care for "me", I'll never be able to care for you. Whether it's a child in need, an aging person who is being abused, or a youth at risk. A person can only give so much for their time, their energy before they're exhausted.
I meant to write this blog as soon as I returned from Banff. But of course, life got in the way. And almost two months later, I finally have the chance to sit down and detail why it's so important to take a trip by yourself, to care for yourself. Here's the thing. You're always surrounded by people. People you love, people you may not love so much, people you can't stand. But in the midst of all this interaction, all these relationships, you can lose yourself, bit by bit.. You forget who you are. What you want. What your priorities are. You lose your balance. There are many a time when I find it hard to describe myself to others apart from my job or my commitments... and it's because I don't regularly take the time to know myself.
I always thought that the best person is the one that is compassionate, helpful towards other. That doesn't mean all the best people work in the not for profit world. It means that they care about others. They sacrifice a small part of themselves to make the world a better place, to make a difference. But how can you make a difference or impact others without knowing yourself?
When I went to Banff, I did all those things I had put off doing for the past six months, but things I was passionate about. Things I loved. I read a whole book in two days. I took myself out for a glass of wine and nice dinner at my favourite restaurant. I watched people interact with each other (with a beautiful mountain as the backdrop), I dressed up and went out to listen to some live jazz music, I enjoyed a delicious fondue, and I treated my body to a massage and facial. I did all those things for myself in two days that I had planned to do over the past six months. And boy, did it make a difference to my soul!
I came back feeling rejuvenated, ready to conquer the world. Or at least, ready to help someone. Anyone. I found balance in my life and vowed to apply it to daily living. And two months later, I look back and think of the person I could have become without that "escape." It would be a person I wouldn't recognize because I would have lived everyday without thinking about who I am and who I want to be.
Sometimes I read so many blogs and hear so many stories of people who make an impact; who are everyday heroes. And as touched by their stories as I am, sometimes to the point of tears, I always found it difficult to understand just how they could do it all.
But now I know, they take the time to care for themselves so that they have the ability to care for others.
After all, how can you make an impact in your community if you can't make an impact on yourself?