When I wake up tomorrow it will be February; the shortest month in the calendar year and my birthday month. Yes, by the end of the month I will finally be a 40-year-old woman. I’m not freaked out about that (yet!) because age is only a number, but I do admit that my birthdays have been (in general) times of personal reflection in recent years. Only this year, the reflection has begun a bit early.
The last year has been filled with an unbelievable amount of stress for me—some of which caused me to question various aspects of my life, including my very place here on Earth. And in trying to cope with that stress, I learned some valuable lessons about who I can count on for support and friendship, and who I can’t. (I then had to deal with the pain of learning that I can’t count on some people I always thought I could.)
Importantly, however, the last year has reminded me that I am no longer someone’s priority.* And I have to accept that that’s OK because I understand that everyone has family, friends, jobs, and a million other things that must take precedence in their lives. However, I have also realised that I’m not even my own priority. And that’s not OK because it means that I am putting the needs and desires of others before my own; it means that I am letting the opinions of others impact decisions I make in my own life.
So for the month of February, I am going to work to change my priorities. I am going to work to make me a priority in my own life. It’s part of my “new year, new me” process, but it goes further than just accepting that I have to walk away from broken relationships. (Though I am still working to overcome those issues!)
Prioritising me is about paying more attention to my physical needs (as in running and eating well; get your mind out of the gutter!) as well as my mental and emotional needs. It’s about recognising that I am important and that if something is bothering me it’s not always OK to just let it go so that I don’t hurt/upset someone else. It’s about taking care of me first. (I am sorry for how selfish that sounds.)
I recognise that life is an ever-evolving process and that it will take more than a month to get myself into a better pattern of self-prioritisation, but February is a start at least. And to that, here are some of the things I’m going to force myself to do throughout February in an effort of self-improvement:
I feel better when I’m running regularly, but I’ve been extremely remiss over the last few months which has impacted my physical and emotional health. So, I will aim to run a minimum of three days a week; rain or shine! I have a half marathon planned for March 9th, so I really do need to kick it up a notch or two.
Journaling helps me process my thoughts, but I’ve been avoiding it the past year (in a way) because I haven’t wanted to “feel” my thoughts! I know I need to get back into the habit because it really does help to write things down. Most of my journal thoughts are private, but I’m sure I’ll share some here—so be warned for some emotional crap!
I never think I deserve new clothes, so I rarely treat myself to anything nice. Instead, I just wear stuff until it can’t be worn any longer and I (almost) never replace things. I’m on a budget so will do my shopping at a charity shop but still, I will buy myself something pretty! Maybe a few things—all for less than one new thing! (At this point, I’m thinking of a £25 budget.)
I’m not really a makeup wearing kind of girl, but I have always enjoyed a bit of lipstick. It makes me feel pretty (I know how silly that sounds!) and gives me a bit of confidence. Only I never actually remember to put it on. My aim will be to wear lipstick 5 days a week. The key is to remember. (On the same theme, I'm going to start painting my finger nails again, too!)
I often feel like I’m a burden on my friends, so I hesitate to make arrangements to get together—and sometimes even pull away and decline invitations. I know I’m not a burden, but the more I isolate myself the more I feel that. So, I am going to make plans to socialise with friends at least 4 times in February. Two Fridays are already spoken for, which is great!
[Note: Please feel free to encourage me along the way. Please also feel free to nag me or to demand proof that I’m working on me. No, really—I’ll take all the help I can get just now!]
I’ll be spending some time focusing in on the things that are taking up my time and energies, too. Almost like a time audit on myself. I think that if I can better understand how I’m using my limited personal resources, I’ll have a better idea on where my priorities need to be allocated.
Wow! All of this personal reflection is going to be hard work. Good thing I’ve chosen the shortest month to do it in!
* I know that I am important to others, and that several people will re-prioritise their lives to help me when I’m in need of their time, but what I’m talking about is someone who puts me first on a regular basis. (Or at least second, right behind their own self.) As I said, it's OK that I'm not someone's priority because we can’t make everyone else our priority or we forget about our own needs!