Making space for oneself

Yesterday, I hit the wall.

We were out walking along the Georgetown waterfront, me with a dear couple that has come to spend the holidays with me, and I’d had enough. We had just finished seeing the latest Star Wars, I had gotten a text from another good friend who had spent the previous evening with us and she was letting me know she was finishing up her shift (which was a prompt for when I’d be headed over to hers to experience, in her words, the “most Jewish Christmas ever” – takeout Chinese and movies – and keeping her company while her partner was away), and, well…

I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to stay with my friends, though I’d already agreed for us to go find a burger joint in the area. I didn’t want to go hang out with my other friend, even though I did have a mild hankering for takeout.

So, we went to the burger joint, I ordered a burger, and I committed a social faux pas: I said I didn’t like the burger. (And this was true, I didn’t, it was a lamb burger with too much rosemary and too much goat cheese and a bit too crumbly).

But, as you know, you don’t do that. I didn’t say it to the server; I just told my friends I didn’t like the burger.

You would have thought I had committed murder. First it was ‘did I just take a wrong bite and should try more?’ Then it was ‘well let me try it and see if I like it.’ Next was ‘well order something else and then we’ll take it home.’ Finally, we made it to ‘you can have mine since I do like it and I’ll finish it.’ Anything, anything, to remove the stink hanging in the air of me saying something that broke the veil of perfection.

Perhaps it sounds vicious, but I was pleased as punch, because finally, for me, I could just be honest: I was in a mood.

Being “selfish”
After, we took an Uber back, a debacle in its own right, and when we got back to my building, I sent them off to their guest apartment and I went home. I texted my friend and asked for a raincheck; she understood. I texted another friend and explained that I would not be coming to London (and to the Lake District) for a 4-day, $1200, 8,200 mile roundtrip gauntlet of a journey because it does not work for me.

This is not to say I don’t want to see or spend time with my friends. That is not the case. But, there is a hard limit when you’re doing things because you’re supposed to do them versus you really wanting to do them, and even worse, when you’re failing to take care of yourself so as not to upset anyone.

I am not someone that often concerns myself with upsetting people but that’s mostly because I have a fundamentally be-and-let-be personality, but when pushed, my first instinct is to retreat / let things slide. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but seeing that I have spent the last year sorting out what works for me and what doesn’t, what I like versus what I don’t, et cetera, it will always be something I need to be careful of leaning into it – it’s a habit, a worn in groove in my being.

So, I was selfish yesterday evening. I got into my bed, pulled the covers over my head, and breathed, nice and deep. I have so many work commitments coming up in the next two months and it is important that I prioritize them. Outside of that, I have personal commitments and things I want to do – swim every Sunday morning, go to a handful events with friends, pitch a story for an upcoming show – and that needs to be prioritized, too.

I can’t do everything. I can’t be everywhere. And I cannot be everything to everyone and that is okay.

Today, I am more at ease. I needed that evening to myself. I’ve got latkes in the oven and my friends are coming over for breakfast before they get on the road back to the City. Then, I’ll have a quiet work-from-home day and tonight, I’ll pack because the next day I leave to spend the rest of the year with family and friends back in the City.

After that, barring disaster or emergency, I will not spend another weekend away from the District for the next two months. I don’t even want to spend more than two days away! I love my home and where I live and I want to enjoy it.

That is my commitment to myself. That is me making space for myself. If that’s considered to be selfish, so be it.

It leads to a better outcome for everyone. I’m sure of it.

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