Learning to Put Myself First
Last updated: September 2022
I have always been the kind of person who puts myself last, who worries about everyone else's needs and wants before my own. But if narcolepsy has taught me one thing, it is that my needs matter and I deserve to look after myself.
I have been a yes-woman my entire life. Need something done? I can do it! I had no regard for if I even wanted to do the task, or for the effects my body would feel afterward. I just said yes to please everyone around me.
Being more selective with my gigs
As a musician, this meant packing my days with so many gigs that I barely had time to eat between. Then studying in the breaks of performance so I could also keep up my grades. I get tired just thinking about it!
When I am offered a gig now, I have a set of questions I ask myself, and I have to answer yes to at least 2 of them in order to let myself take the gig.
- Is it music that I enjoy?
- Is it people that I want to work with?
- Does it benefit my career to take this gig?
I learned the hard way that I need to be more selective with what I say yes to. Otherwise, I won't get to do the things I enjoy because I have burnt myself out from doing all of these other things for people.
Stuck on the boom-bust rollercoaster
So I have been on the boom-bust rollercoaster for as long as I can remember. If you don't know what that is, boom-bust is the idea that we go through periods of high activity followed by periods of fatigue and rest. It is essentially a constant burnout cycle.
For years, I would burn the candle at both ends and do anything and everything I could while I felt up to it, and then just deal with the crash later. I thought this was normal. I thought everyone would work themselves to the bone to the point where they became physically sick and needed time off. I was wrong.
I deserve to put myself first!
This was such a hard pill for me to swallow. Ultimately, I needed to learn that I deserved to look after myself. I am still just as worthy on the days that I do nothing, as on the days that I do everything!
Instead of going round in circles in this burnout cycle I now try to use pacing so that I don't overdo it. I plan my days with plenty of rest breaks so that I can nap when needed and give myself plenty of time to eat and stretch my legs.
I also plan my week out so that I ALWAYS have a weekend to rest! I used to pack every single day full with so many things so that I could help everybody and anybody. But I feel so much better and so much more able to cope with my narcolepsy now that I give myself what I need.
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