The best piece of advice I ever received was from my sister in May of 2015. It was 7 in the morning and I had been texting her having a meltdown about my impending breakup. This man and I had not been good for each other. Comfort and fear were holding hands telling me to just keep giving the relationship ‘one more shot.’
I had signed a new lease in a town an hour away, insisting yet again that a fresh location would help with that fresh perspective and a clear mind. The moving date was set, the job offer had been signed and it was a matter of time before the relationship was over as well. All of my insecurities, doubts, and fears were making themselves known every morning with a new set of tears on the same tired face.
That morning my Godsend of a sister was listening to me yet again go back and forth about what to do, which direction to go, and how I was possibly going survive all of this upcoming change. She sent a text that said,
“Take a deep breath and put yourself first.”
My sister’s advice is not one to be taken lightly. Unlike me, her smiles and words are earned. She has fought battles and demons and continued forward with still grace and dignity. She has provided me a sense of home when I could not find one within myself, and given me the courage to continue being who I am even when I have continuously shaken under my own skin. The impact of this piece of advice came with a newfound sense of gravity within my own world.
These words have continued to ring in my ears and provide comfort every time I have been unnecessarily hard on myself, overwhelmed with commitments, or been so deeply lost within my own mind. Her one sentence has helped me navigate the exhausting process of learning to be soft on myself, not just others. I will be the first person in line to soften the blow for my loved ones but am the first to throw salt on my own self-inflicted wounds.
Take a deep breath and slow down, realize that not a single person has everything figured out. Breathe and remember that we are all human and engulfed in wave after wave of thoughts, feelings, memories, hopes, and fears. Take them in one at a time and acknowledge that they are there, yearning to be felt. Put yourself first and open your eyes to the fact that if you are not your own priority, you’ll end up falling through your own cracks and picking up the pieces.
I have allowed myself to be buried in another person without the realization that I was suffocating rather than being planted. My sister has always provided me with a sense of comfort and protection. And her words provided the encouragement necessary to push forward in rearranging my priorities and placing myself at the top of that list. I have continued to take these words with me in every encounter and rely on them in the heaviest and simplest of times. I’ve offered them to others in hopes that they, too will find a sense of comfort and direction in them. Take a deep breath and put yourself first so that everything else can align and fall into place.