Today I took some time for self-care. I’ve never been a “girly girl” who liked to get her nails done, her hair cut and colored, or even go shopping for clothes. These were triggers for me because doing these things meant interacting with people. It meant going out of my comfort zone and letting go of the control and safety I had at home. I would have anxiety attacks in stores, would stress about having to talk to people, and be in a constant state of worry. More often than not, I would take myself or need others to take me out of the situation just to calm down.
For instance, if I was getting my hair done, I wouldn’t talk to my stylist. Not that I didn’t want to. I was just trying so hard to keep my cool. The only way I knew how to do this was to shut my mouth and focus all my energy on breathing and closing out the world around me.
Keeping in mind that most of this occurred at a young age, I grew up with this control and never wanted to let it go. But slowly, I did find ways to build my confidence to cope with these situations. However, it was always with the benefit of having someone there with me to control things when I couldn’t. So how did I grow up with being unable to do most of these things on my own?
Well, I had a certain degree of control that I imposed on others. Doing so let me have the boundaries I was comfortable with while still being able to get these things done. If others saw what was done for me, they might say I was catered to. They’re right! So many people around me were just trying to help create a space that felt safe to me at all times. This wasn’t to give me an illusion of “Shayla’s Utopia” (although that does sound nice!). Rather, it was an attempt to give me the space I needed to build up to being independent. It was an unknown pattern for 24 years that only showed itself when I was ready for change.
It was when I saw that self-care had a physical aspect to it that I could see ways it would help me grow as a person. Things like hair, nails, clothes and other “girly” things can actually promote self-esteem if used with the right mindset. The idea of “when you look good, you feel good” comes to mind here. I’m not saying you have to beautify yourself every day and look perfect at all times. That’s not reality. I would sooner be in yoga pants 24/7 than all dolled up!
The picture I posted with this post was taken today after my hair cut/color. This was an appointment I set up myself. I had gone there on my own, felt good without my makeup, talked to my stylist the entire time, didn’t have a panic about the change with my hair, and relaxed about not being able to style it myself. I was finally able to see how my efforts of physical self-care have made a drastic change of my inner self. A good one.
I have grown so much in the past year. By taking steps to practice mindfulness every day, I have found a new strength in me to basically be an adult. This has come about as a result of trying to be more independent. There has been a transfer of energy, so to speak, with taking care of my physical self. By doing things I never thought I would be capable of, I’m overcoming obstacles that were once impossible to go over. I mean, you would think at 24 years old, I would have this shit figured out already. The truth, as I see it, is that many millennials today don’t have these skills. That’s okay! We learn each day.
At times I still panic with crowds, loud places, talking to people, and (especially) change. It’s only been very recent that I’ve been able to finally let go of SOME of the control I’ve imposed on the world and others around me to show myself that I am capable of changing behaviors that no longer serve me. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Something that I think can be challenging for many.
Never be afraid to be real. Never be afraid to let go.
Don’t fear change. The growth of your inner self can actually be the most beautiful change in your life. You just might not notice it until you see it from the outside. Suddenly, without realizing it, you’ll be looking from the outside-in. Only then, can you give yourself credit for the changes you are making with your “self”. It’s because you have the evidence right in front of you.
There’s a balancing act we have with our energy. Both inside and outside. One we can have control of, but also can have freedom with. We just have to be willing to change our perspective of how we see ourselves and the world around us to be able to see what we are truly capable of. Above all else, give yourself credit for every step you take in your journey; even for the smallest ones.