Self Care with a Little Attitude
Self care sounds like bullshit to a lot of people. Right up there with gratitude jars and scented candles. But sometimes you have to treat yourself to wine and sushi. A little Netflix. A warm bath. A long walk. A break from your phone. That’s real self care.
And maybe scented candles aren’t so bad. They make coffee-scented ones. But then again, I could just brew a pot.
Maybe if they made bourbon-scented candles. Someone should look into that. That’s a Kickstarter I could really get behind.
Oh, wait. They already make those. Sorry.
Lots of us feel the need to push harder. The early worm gets the bird. Even your side hustle wants a side hustle these days.
On top of that, social media preys on our need for attention. Validation. Cash. Tweet more. Make some YouTube videos. Send out some more resumes. Post something on your LinkedIn profile. One last time.
Hustle, hustle, hustle.
A friend of mine lost a movie audition because she was busy waiting tables. If only she’d snuck away for one bathroom break to check her voicemail. She could’ve been Natalie Portman’s stand-in for Thor II: The Dark World.
Moments like that convince us that we can’t take five minutes for granted. We’re all just one bathroom break away from a turning point. If we could just eek out one more tweet. One more podcast.
One more song.
If we could just like one more post on Pinterest.
And we ignore the long term cost. We think running ourselves ragged for long enough has to lead somewhere. But after a certain point, you cross the threshold of diminishing returns.
We’ve heard this a hundred times. And yet it only takes one missed call for a movie audition to forget the soundest advice in the world.
Sure, sometimes you have to push yourself. Others, you need to hang back and relax. Chilling doesn’t make you lazy. Or depressed.
Just smart. And balanced.
If you work your ass off all the time, you leave no room for reflection. Planning. Dead time. Daydreams. Naps.
These are all natural, healthy things.
Look at your cat. If you have one. Your cat doesn’t care. Because your cat has a set of core skills. She knows when to roll around on the floor and look at you upside down. When to meow. When to snuggle.
And in return, the cat gets everything she wants. You feed her. Groom her. Clean up her piss and shit. And you buy her toys.
You also buy your cat drugs. Catnip is weed for cats.
A cat has never hustled once.
Even cats in the wild know better. They have one core skill — they’re super great at killing birds and squirrels.
They work for a little bit each day. The rest of the time, they lounge around and nap. Sometimes, they fuck. We can learn a great deal from cats. Namely, hustle as much as you have to. But not more.
At some point, all the extra hustling just goes to waste.
One of my favorite books is Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird On The Internet. Nobody’s hustled harder than her. And she almost torched herself. Worked so hard she lost friends. Self-esteem. Energy. And health. That’s what happens when you don’t take time for rest.
Here’s what I took away from Felicia Day’s book. You can be talented. You can be smart. And charming. And funny. Your time will come if you work hard enough. But if you work harder than that, you just make yourself sick. Dammit, I really wish I’d read her book sooner.
Your brain might tell you to keep going. No matter what. That 27th hour makes all the difference. Hello, you’ve been watching too many inspirational movies. Go to sleep.
My second year of grad school taught me everything I needed to know about the hustle. That year, I decided to take classes on two different campuses — an hour’s drive apart. Took on a tutoring job to make extra cash. Plus, I tried to write a crime novel. Some weekends, I didn’t sleep. Literally.
Some assholes like to brag about not sleeping. I think they’re lying. Every week, I’d suffer through at least one all-nighter. One that bled into the next day. As in 40 hours without sleep.
That’s not fun. It’s just self-torture.
Let me really spell it out. Not just 40 hours of being awake. Forty hours of actual work. Psychologist say you’re brain can tolerate 4–5 hours of deep thought on a given day. Me? I tried to quadruple that twice. Afterward, I would crash into a 10-hour coma, wake up, pound an energy drink, and go about a normal four or five days.
Until the next 40-hour marathon.
After 14 weeks of that, I’d love to say all the hustling paid off. But it didn’t. Honestly, I could’ve worked half as much and accomplished the same amount. What a hard lesson.
My crime novel sucked. I threw it away. That’s when I had to make hard choices about my career.
That’s also when I started taking baths with sea salt. Allowing myself to sleep. Enjoying a meal and some television. There were so many great TV shows I’d missed. That’s right. I’d worked so hard throughout my 20s that I hadn’t even seen a single episode of Bones. Or 24.
Netflix and chill saved my life. At first, I worried that it would turn me into a couch potato. But the opposite happened. Once I let myself relax, my productivity almost doubled.
It freaked me out at first. How the hell could you accomplish more by working less? That’s some kind of bizarre magic.
Or maybe it’s just the common sense I was missing.
Everyone has a ceiling. I’m not talking a glass ceiling, like from Feminism 101. This ceiling moves. But only a few inches.
Maybe some people try to shatter theirs. They push it up 3 inches and then stay up all night banging on it. Stop. That ceiling’s not going anywhere, until you recharge for a day or two.
Look, I don’t have some secret formula for when to push yourself and when to rest. But your body knows.
So listen to your body. And your gut. But not your spleen. Your spleen’s a lying little cunt. Whoops, I said the word cunt. And at a politically sensitive time. Too soon? Sorry. I’m sorry I called your spleen a cunt.