I enjoy practicing yoga, but rarely have a chance to actually get out to a yoga class, so I typically just end up following a video. In one that I watched recently, the instructor said something that stuck with me: “Take time and honor exactly who you are and where you are today.” Though all of us are working to improve and progress, we shouldn’t be so consumed that we forget to appreciate who and where we are right now. Many of us, myself included, have a habit of holding ourselves to extraordinarily high standards, minimizing our achievements and maximizing our missteps and mistakes. We seem to negate all of the work we have done to make it here and the experiences that have made us who we are. We forget to periodically look back and take stock of how much we’ve grown and progressed already. I think it’s so important for all of us to be a little less critical of ourselves and appreciate our own hard work. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow and improve, but we shouldn’t completely lose ourselves and who we are in the process.
This lesson has been a difficult one for me to learn. The past two semesters have been spent pushing myself to my physical and mental limits. I worked two jobs and took a full load of courses, some of them quite intense (including two of Dr. Perez’s accelerated courses). All of this while trying to stay on top of family issues, have a social life, and a successful relationship. I was so driven to reach one goal, then the next, and the one after that and started to be so critical and cruel to myself in the process. I felt awful and it was beginning to take a toll on every aspect of my life. I wasn’t sleeping well, started skipping meals, isolating myself from some friends, and taking my frustrations out on others. I realized I couldn’t keep going on that way, so I did something that can be incredibly difficult to do: I asked for help. In doing so, I found myself taking a step back and looking at things more objectively and realized that I was placing so much unnecessary stress on myself trying to do more and more, trying to be better and better. I had already done quite well and come so far, but had just lost sight of my own progress and didn’t appreciate all the hard work I had already done to get to that point. So I did another difficult thing: I cut myself some slack. It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t. It’s a work in progress. But I feel much better and much more in control. My grades improved, as did my work performance and my relationships with those around me. I’m still struggling to be nicer to myself, but I can look back and see how much progress I’ve made and it’s helping me reach my goals in a better, healthier way.