I recently read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir ‘Wild’ about her experience of self-discovery while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. There were aspects of this book that spoke to me, and I felt a kinship to her expressive and poetic analysis of life. This led me to read and learn more about her. I found this following passage in her book, ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’:
“Doing what one wants to do because one wants to do it is hard for a lot of people, but I think it’s particularly hard for women. We are, after all, the gender onto which a giant Here to Serve button has been eternally pinned. We’re expected to nurture and give by the very virtue of our femaleness, to consider other people’s feelings and needs before our own.”
For some reason, this really hit a chord with me. Whether it comes to parenting or life decisions in general, I find myself always considering other people’s feelings above my own. For most of us, our day starts out with a running list of all the ways we need to take care of other people. I know my kids are at the top of my list, my husband, my pets, my friends or whatever other list of obligations I have accumulated for fear of saying ‘no’ to someone or something. We are often so bogged down in other people’s stuff that we don’t even notice our own.
I think if we can learn to say ‘yes’ to ourselves more, then our world will start to reflect that back to us. I am a Mom and a caregiver so it isn’t always realistic to put myself first. We don’t need to say ‘no’ to everything all at once. We do need to consider that we are individuals who matter as much as the ones we take care of.
by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent
Strayed, Cheryl. Tiny Beautiful Things. A Vintage Books Original, July 2012.