The folks at lifehack.org have an interesting article titled “How to Be a Friend of Yourself” –
We often focus on building relationships with others that we forget the essential first step: being friends of ourselves. That is the crucial first step if we are to have good relationships with others. How can we have good relationships with others if we don’t even have good relationship with ourselves? (read the rest)
It’s a fantastic article — but I think in order to be a good friend of yourself, it doesn’t just mean being able to accept and embrace yourself. Rather, to be your own best friend, you need to start treating yourself like you would a best friend.
Would you demand as much from your good friend as you do of yourself?
1) Stop taking five classes.
I had to see my poor pre-med friend suffer going to bed at 3 am because he took five classes AND was involved with a lot of extracurricular activities.
Unless you have that smack of genius in you (alas, I do not), have little desire to do much outside of school work, or have to fulfill some sort of pressing requirement, you should not put yourself through the agony.
When you don’t have time to sit down and eat dinner with your friends, when you can’t make a movie date with someone, when you turn down that invitation to a birthday party — that is a sign that you’re doing too much.
2) It’s the weekend for goodness sakes!
Some people understandably have stressful weekends (upcoming midterms, sports team commitments, job), and that’s perfectly understandable. I think I spent the last few weekends hitting the books (much to my dismay!) for upcoming midterms and tests (but I still managed to find a way to sneak myself off to the Quad and MIT).
However, if you find yourself doing work every Friday night to the extent that dragging yourself to a party with a bunch of friends seems like pulling teeth. Please, reconsider your mental sanity. You don’t have to be partying, but you should at least give yourself a good solid evening to RELAX.
3) Don’t treat yourself like you might do to some Harvard friends.
My roommate Ashlyn has voiced this particular frustration of hers to me numerous times. Plans for a birthday party on a Saturday night, and too many people wimp out on the excuse of a problem set, paper, or something or other.
In a school where the first thing you realize is the value of the time, excusing yourself out of a significant event particularly highlights how much you value someone.
4) YouTime, Not YouTube
Ask someone when was the last time they read something for pleasure, and they will wrinkle up their brow, ponder, and confess something like, “Last vacation…”
People get worn down here. Yes there are those impeccably cheery people — god bless them because it means that there is hope for the rest of us — but most seem to get dragged down at some point during their Harvard experience always doing something, but never doing anything for themselves.
Find whatever recharges you. It could be hanging with friends, curling up with a good book or watching a movie. Just make sure you slot some time for yourself. (And if this seems impossible and you’re calling ALL your weeks Hell Weeks, either you or something has got to go.)
5) It’s Okay to Take a Break
One of my classmates somehow suddenly disappeared off the face of the planet in the middle of last semester. I found out a bit later that she took a leave of absence and would be joining the previous class on her return.
I can’t speak for her, but from talking to one of her friends, it seems like she was dealing with some mental and emotional stress from a suicide that occurred on campus. Her friend paraphrased a conversation they had, which I will paraphrase yet again:
“I hope you don’t think I chickened out.”
“No, I think what you did was brave.”
I echo his sentiments exactly. While a few of us don’t know what’s best for ourselves, if something just isn’t working, it might be a good time to just take a break. Leave this high pressure crock pot, hike the alps or just relax at home, and come back with a better perspective on things and yourself.