It is something we have all heard since we were children: “take care of your toys” and “let me take care of you” were phrases peppered into the thread of our youth but I think sometimes its meaning gets a little lost.
It’s true that as a kid, “taking care” was a phrase that was largely material focused. I was very prone to not taking care of my toys and I was fascinated by the idea of helping to take care of my baby brother. For me, taking care of things was tangible, something I could grasp onto and see proof that I was doing it right.
As I get older, I’m beginning to feel like I am losing my grasp on this concept. Taking care of my Easter dress has been replaced with taking care of my health, my sanity and my safety.
Being in college is really strange in the sense that there is, usually, no one standing over your shoulder and making sure you are okay. At home, if I had a cold my mother would probably know and be on my case about “overdosing on Vitamin C to try to get better.” At school, there is no one to stop and tell me that I should rest, or that I probably have a fever and that it is okay to miss a class if I really need to.
And that’s where so many of us fail at understanding the concept that made so much sense when we were kids; we simply are not great at taking care of ourselves. I know many people that are similar to myself in the sense that it is hard to distinguish when your body or your soul simply needs to rest or indulge in something that will bring levity and a sense of relief to your life.
I think it’s an idea that takes some rediscovering. Self care is not necessarily innate in people, except at a basic animal instinct level that tells you to run from that lion. Self care is something that is learned constantly and tested out until you find out what truly works for you. Self care is not something that is always easy, but eventually with enough practice, I think we can all learn that sometimes it is just as okay to have an extra cookie or to stay in bed for another hour as it is to run from that lion.