Sunday Self-care: Dreams Deferred Makes the Heart Sick
“I was afraid you’d leave me behind.” These were the words my ex said to me in regard to my grad school pursuit. He said this six months after we dissolved our engagement and our four year relationship. I had suspected this was the case when he basically told me I wasn’t ready for grad school. Luckily for me I never once allowed his words to deter me. We may have been building a life together then, but I was still my own person and there was no way I was going to lead a life of misery because someone else wanted me to. I was smart enough to know when someone was trying to clip my wings, even when I knew that person loved me.
The problem is that people will say they have your best interest at heart, but words and actions are two different things. Love is indeed an action word. Saying you love someone is different from ensuring that you have their best interest in mind. Your best interest includes your dreams, the things you are passion about, the things that drive you. It took me four relationships to realize that. When you are not receiving support from your immediate support network in regard to your passions, you have to seek it out through groups and networking if it is not possible to disconnect from those people and things that are hindering you (e.g. work, family, spouse etc).
What the heck does this all have to do with self-care? When we let our passions die, parts of our souls die. While you may not be able to live out your dreams in the way that you once thought, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up something that is embedded in every fiber of your being. By you not doing the very things that give you life, purpose, energy, euphoria, etc, you allow those fibers to die one at a time until you find yourself shriveled up, miserable, disappointed, and hurt in life.
“Life is too short to feel as though you have invested your time and energy in everyone and everything else but yourself.” I love the quote by Tony Gaskins “If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help build theirs.” Building someone else’s dream may help you to get to a place to building your own. But if it won’t, you will have to reevaluate your decision to invest in something or someone that is leading you away from your passion.
I believe that investing in your passion is the ultimate form of self-care because you are nurturing the core of who you are. I have felt no greater emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc than I have in committing myself to my passions. In the past, my relationships felt draining because I put myself aside, I lessened the core of who I was in order to compromise. Compromise is definitely necessary for a healthy relationship, but where it becomes unhealthy is when you compromise on the very things that help keep your soul uplifted. I love the proverb “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” For me we find hope in the dreams that we desire. I wondered why I was so depressed in my relationships--because my passion was being stifled and suffocated by someone who sought their interest above mine. How can we keep ourselves from feeling sick?
1. Keep a Journal.
A year or so into grad school, after I was on one of my “breaks” with my ex, I started dreaming again. I realized that my relationship was sucking out my ability to dream. I started a dream journal which consisted of all of those things I ever desired for my life from my travel desires, to my creative desires, to my dreams of starting a non-profit. I started the journal as a reminder that when I became discouraged, when someone tried to clip my wings, or when I felt like I was off track, I had something to remind me of my strengths and the desires of my heart. My dream journal has quotes from the people who inspire me the most. It has words and phrases that stick with me. It is colorful and insightful. I also keep a running typed log of all of things I am passionate about.
2. Actually do what you’re passionate about.
When I knew that I wanted to teach, I was working full-time at a job that was paying my bills. Not ready to step out financially, I was able to teach somewhere for three hours a week, which filled that void in my life. While I have stepped away from that now, I am pursuing other things that I love, like soap-making. Don’t make excuses. When I revealed to my friend how much I wanted to do photography and soaping, he simply said “Just do it.” Just do it, wherever you need to start, and with whatever you have.
3. Find support
Unfortunately, those who love you and are invested in you in other ways may not support your passions and may even discourage you. After I separated myself from some of the people who didn’t support me, I was able to find others who did support me via making new friends, networking, and joining online groups. While I am not supported by all of those who I thought would be in my corner, I am supported by those who I thought unlikely to blow wind into my sails. Little by little I strive to live my life in a way that honors my passion.
Have your passions died? How has your heart grown sick? If and when you feel dead inside, rediscover your passions; dream again.
The Body Buffet creates handmade artisan soap, shampoo, conditioners, spa bars, beard care, body wash and more for Baltimore, the DMV, and beyond. We have been creating conditioning skin-loving, hair-loving, since 2009. Visit our shop at www.thebodybuffet.com. Marquita Johl is the soaper-in-chief and a self-care advocate. She has been crafting soap for eleven years.