My calendar is getting full. Every year, September rolls around, and I get out my date book. I write down the kids’ school days and their days off, I plan for weekly classes and play dates, I keep track of birthdays, birthday parties, and holidays, I schedule doctor and dentist appointments, and I block out the hours that I teach and see patients. This year I scheduled special weekly time with Lucy and special weekly time with Nate. For the past year and a half, my husband and I have scheduled at least one date night a week.
As my date book fills up, finding time for myself is a challenge. If I’m lucky, I can schedule a workout or a walk, but even then, those plans are often the first to be scrapped if something unexpected comes up during the day.
So I’ve made a little promise to myself. I will make a date with myself once a week. I thought I would share this promise in my newsletter, just in case anyone else wanted to join me … I don’t mean join me on my date, but I mean join me in scheduling their own date with themselves.
There is one relationship in our lives that is often the one that suffers the most; ironically, this relationship may very well be the most important relationship we make in our lives. This is our relationship with ourselves. It feels quite natural to put large amounts of energy into our personal, professional, romantic and familial relationships. It is accepted and quite expected that we devote time and energy to growing and nurturing the relationships we have with the people closest to us. But what about the person that is closest of all?
We’re not taught as children to have a relationship with ourselves. I hear comments made about children like, “Isn’t that great that she can play by herself?” I am not sure that comments like these actually celebrate a child’s ability to spend time with him/herself, rather I think it is meant to celebrate the so-called freedom that this allows mom and dad to get things done around the house. When I watch my daughter happily playing by herself (dancing, pretending, chatting, singing, swinging), I can only hope that she will remain that at ease and that comfortable in herself and by herself as she continues to grow and mature.
On our way to adulthood, we learn about and experience the things that take us away from ourselves. We become distracted and anxious, nervous and overwhelmed, and busy and stressed. We feel our bodies less and less, and we become self-conscious. We become aware of being observed and noticed, and hence we become aware of how we look and especially how we look to others. We feel criticized, judged, insecure and ashamed, and as a result, we develop a sense of ourselves that exists outside ourselves and feeds our critical voice. We feel anxious, frustrated and stressed out.
The overall effect of becoming self-conscious, critical and anxious is that it becomes not so much fun to spend time with ourselves. It is much easier to be distracted by television, a video game, a party, or a night out with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I think our connections with our families, our friends, and our communities are of the utmost importance. But those relationships are no more important than our connection to ourselves.
I have a date scheduled this week with myself, and I plan to make it a regular thing. A lunch date, a coffee date, a hiking date, a yoga date … maybe even a weekend away date. I will block off the time, and I will make it happen. If I have to take a rain check one week, I will make good on my promise.
I invite you to join me. Are you inspired to make a date with the most important person in your life? Who knows, you might find that you are very good company and a whole lot of fun?
Together let’s prioritize ourselves in the new year. Let’s make connecting with ourselves, feeling ourselves and growing and nurturing our relationship with ourselves happen. Mark those calendars!