When you know you’ve done your best and that your best isn’t going to be good enough, that’s when it’s time to call for help.
It’s a late on Monday; perhaps a little too late to link up with my favorite weekly linkup and reach many readers, especially considering that it’s two hours later on the east coast. But the theme for these week’s Week in Review is self care, and I think I have something important to share about self care this week.Those of you who read the blog on a regular basis know that I’ve been having a rough couple of weeks. This time last Monday, I was barely holding it together what with the sheer amount of s*** I had to get done. And I could write a post about all the usual sorts of self-care I took through the week, making sure I got at least 7 hours of sleep each night, taking breaks for two spin classes and one yoga class, backing down from swing dance, even though I love it, to get through some work. Cooking and eating healthy food. Letting the blog world slip a little bit in order to take care of myself.But I think writing a post that focuses on all that would be a partial untruth. Sure, all those things were super important in helping me keep my sanity and get through the week. But in the end, they weren’t the most important thing.
After screaming through the week, tearing through responsibilities, living minute to minute, I came to the weekend ready to dig a hole for myself and finish grading the 19 remaining projects I’d told my students I’d have back to them by Monday.And my laptop broke.
Yup. On Friday morning, I was getting into my office. I had said down my bags and helmet to get out my keys and unlock the door. As I stepped back out to retrieve the last of my bags, however, the door started closing on me, and fearing that I’d be locked out of the office, I made a split-second decision and let my backpack drop–thunk!–onto the tile floor. My laptop kept working throughout the day but finally failed that evening.
At that point, I knew that all the working my ass off that had got me through the week was not going to be enough. I wasn’t going to get everything I needed to done without help.
So I called in the troupes. I called my parents numerous times and asked for advice on what to do. I went to Best Buy and accepted the help of a Geek Squad geek, who kindly listened to my hard drive with a stethoscope and declared it bad news bears. (The files could be recovered. Thank goodness.) And, for not the first time since I started this blog, I called in the assistance of my absolute hero of a boyfriend. He helped advise me about a new laptop to buy and spent the better part of Sunday setting it up while I tore through 13 papers in one day. By the end, I was sobbing and exhausted–but I had a working computer. And I was so so glad he was there.
On top of all of this, I also had to ask for understanding and forgiveness–from my roommate for a messy apartment, from my freshmen for papers returned at midnight.
I had to ask forgiveness, too, from my boyfriend; we had planned a hike up to the top of Horsetooth Rock for Sunday morning. We stuck with that plan, but I was stressed and got a little grouchy when he didn’t skidaddle up the mountain as fast as my panicked brain thought I wanted to. Why is it that we so often take our anxiety out on the people who are most dependably there for us?
In the end, we spent a good 15 minutes at the top looking out at the view over Fort Collins. And who knows? If we hadn’t taken that hike, maybe I would have been just as stressed, maybe even more stressed, having spent all morning staring at my computer screen.Self care, I think, is about more than remembering to eat your veggies and taking a bath now and again. Self care, in my view, is about humility. It’s about being able to say: “I’m doing all that I can do. I have limits.” And sometimes that can mean something simple like taking a rest day from exercise or going for a walk rather than forcing yourself to study for 8 hours straight. To me this week, however, it’s meant being able to say, “Hey. I can’t do this by myself. I need to ask for help–big time help. And I’m going to have to set aside my pride to do it.”
Now that I’ve returned the first project of the semester to my freshmen, I’ve tried to emphasize that they, too, are welcome to come to me for help. Receiving your first grade on a college paper can be a humbling experience, and it’s sometimes the first time students realize that they might benefit from coming to my office hours. As a teacher, I don’t see it as a sign of weakness if a student comes to me and asks for feedback or to go back over a concept I taught in class. It’s a sign of humility and wisdom.Did you go to your instructor’s office hours very often when you were in college?
When was the last time you had to ask for help?