(Featured Photo by Leslie Spainhour)
Mood: slightly anxious/hungry.
In life, and especially in mental illness, it can be easy to lose track of your grasp on life.
You can get so stuck in your own head that you end up putting less of your energy into moving forward.
In my experience, I know that I tend to just let things happen to me by paralyzing myself in the fear of owning up to the responsibilities of the decisions I make. “What if I make the wrong choice?”, I wonder. “What’ll I do, then?” I give more power to the what-ifs than the love for myself. It can be what I feel I deserve, and I know I’m not alone in that.
However, sometimes, in the moments where I feel I have no control and that I’m the only one who could possibly be struggling this way, it helps to have someone bitch-slap me in the face with words of wisdom and reassurance. As simple as it may sound, all we need is a little dose of reality from time to time. Our minds can trick us, and it’s important to take in some sage advice that isn’t comprised of what our anxious, hateful minds may tell us.
Thankfully, I’d just gotten bitch-slapped by some DAMN good reassurance and advice, and I’m about to forward that bitch slap to the rest of you (in the nicest way possible).
Enter Leslie Spainhour, one of the coolest EVER people living on the face of this planet. We’d gone to school together for however long tiny human years last, and she’s one of the people I’ve been most inspired by. She’d always been the best for laidback life talks and tattoo advice, and, at only 23-years-old, she’s already shown just how uniquely innovative someone can be in life. I don’t know, I think she might actually be a life guru, tbh. In any case, I eventually got up the nerve to pester her for some of her wisdom to share on my blog. Thankfully, she didn’t mind at all, and was patient enough to work with me when I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
Here’s the bitch slap she gave:
“In the amount of time that I have been alive and actually retaining memories, I feel like I have lived an exceptionally full life. I have done terrible things, wonderful things, super-scary-never-want-to-do-again things and, oddly enough, they have all ended up being beautiful things.
I’m no self-help guru but, I think the most important thing on your to-do list should always be – to take care of yourself. It is and isn’t just as easy as that. There will always be other things on your list, but you can’t forget to be selfish sometimes. It’s okay to not want to go out with your friends, it’s okay to nap after a long day, it’s okay to initiate an end; it’s okay to quit. I’m really good at getting myself buried so, naturally, removing myself from underneath whatever is choking me has worked out well almost every time.
To disregard yourself or what your body tells you is foolish (too giving); yet, to not be compassionate or to help your neighbor is a mark against the very principal I feel should be highlighted throughout the human experience – the Golden rule – treating others the way you wish to be treated. Personally, the idea of karma being real is too obviously true to ignore.
What makes the difference between being selfish and giving is determined by what you need to accomplish and how you get there. The power is in the what and the how. You must know yourself before you know what work truly needs to be done. For example, I used to have this old shitty corkboard for my room. From, like, age 12 to age 21, I would acquire all these little pieces and “postcards” from different people, times and places, and if they didn’t earn themselves their own slot on my clutter-covered walls, they usually made it to the corkboard. Over the years, I had more things than I had push pins, paper clips, tape and, in some desperate times, gum, too. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to fit everything into ‘right now’. There wasn’t room for growth or letting go. It was all about keeping the things so I could physically keep the memories. So, as you can assume, my room really started to look like a hoarder nest. I remember going to pin some fabric of the past to my corkboard, undoing one pin to attach two or three different pieces together and the whole motherfucker comes off the wall. Shit goes everywhere and it becomes clear that I live my life the same way: Working with what I’m given, building intricate messes and genuinely not having a fucking clue what I’m doing, but really trying to pretend everything about my situation is normal.
I no longer live in the same physical space, but I see pieces of my old self everywhere, even with all my new things. I was accustomed to the mess and, sometimes, it’s hard to tell if I’m getting better at managing myself or if I’m still the same addict in a new home. As a human, it is super helpful to see progress so that momentum or motivation to better yourself can continue. Life is a lot like the corkboard, full of things and very much a puzzle. The only remedy I have found is continuing to push forward. It doesn’t always have to be big steps, after all, [since] most things are made of a million smaller things. So, take your time and learn to love you. At the core of action is passion, whether it comes in threads or in masses. Take advantage of the hints all around you and make a difference for the sake of self-love.”
I don’t know about you, but reading that helped me feel super fucking refreshed.
A lot of people seem to assume that, to be a good person and live a full life, you have to be willing to give your all to other things and people at any moment in time. To take yourself into consideration is to be viewed as a douchebag, and no one wants to be viewed that way.
However, take this moment to imagine yourself as the main source of something (like water, for example). Sure, it’s nice to be able to provide that water to other people and help them live as comfortably as they can, but, eventually, you’ll get tapped out. You’re initially a non-renewable resource. There will be nothing else to give if you give it all. The only way to replenish yourself as a source is to give to YOURSELF.
You have to be willing to know yourself, accept yourself, and do things for yourself to achieve the things that you want in life. You even have to be willing to accept the less favorable parts of yourself and your past to be able to propel yourself. Trust me, messing up or feeling confused in life doesn’t excuse your right to a life tailored to being your best self.
All-in-all, I couldn’t have said it better than Leslie, though. You know when you talk up one of your friends, and then they just come through? That’s what just happened, and I’m so SUPER THANKFUL to be able to share her wisdom with you guys. I can’t thank Leslie enough for being so cool and awesome about this whole process. Trust me, this could not have worked without her.
But, now, I have a few questions for you guys: How do YOU stay in touch with yourself? What do you do to make sure that you’re truly feeling well after a long day? Would you have anything else to add to this?
And, of course, if you wanted to see more from Leslie, you can follow her on Instagram!
And, of course, thank you ALL for even looking at this thing. I’m always grateful (and shocked) when you do.