And why self-care is non-negotiable for living a more fulfilling life.

My greatest pleasure at one point was making my then-girlfriend smile. I’d work hard to earn enough money to take her out somewhere so I could show her a good time. You know, movies, dinner, the occasional long drive to see where we’d end up.

I didn’t have the best job. I was actually motivated to go get a higher paying job just for her. The money I made, after paying my bills, I felt would be best spent on showing her a good time.

I have a knack for picking out a place to eat by sight alone. Always a beneficial trick to have up my sleeve when needed. The moments her life was busy I’d sign up for overtime at work. Between that money, and the weekends we were busy, I’d save up for a weekend splurge. I’d spend my free time price checking and mapping out an in-state but far enough getaway. ⁣

I don’t regret it. I’ll have memories for the rest of my life. That’s what life is about to me anyway. The memories. ⁣I could have done better all around.

The whole hindsight 20/20 reflection revealed that I don’t remember doing a thing about my own self-care. What did I do for me? Aside from fitness becoming a thing I cared about, for the wrong reasons, I don’t know what classified as self-care during that time.

To her credit, I remember her telling me to do things for myself. I could have easily sat back and figured out a hobby. Worked on a “non-negotiable”.

(A non-negotiable is something you won’t let anything or anyone get in the way of. It is a necessity for your way of life. It can be in a relationship or single. It could be an activity, feeling, or belief. Two examples: “I’m going to jiu-jitsu twice a week.” “This relationship we will always be honest, even if it hurts.”)

I was too busy secretly planning the next time away to pay attention on myself. ⁣

When we broke up, I was left with work, money, and no one to make smile. No habits of self-care remained, so that wasn’t even on my mind. ⁣I didn’t want to go for a walk or leave the house much. Going on a trip felt stupid since I couldn’t look over and see her enjoying it.

I was living a “What’s the point?” life at that time.

I say this story just to remind you that it’s amazing to be in love. It’s amazing to want to make others smile. But life can be so much more fulfilling if we spent a little time on our own self-care.

It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Time for you, doing something you love, can change your life for the better.

A Trip For Me

I drove from NJ straight to Florida for a me trip. I’d never been until that point. I wanted warm weather, beach, and to visit a few people I haven’t seen in close to a decade. I got sunburnt in Blue State Spring Park, learning that even light-skinned African Americans need sunscreen. I also learned what sun poisoning is like. (Ever thrown up in a McDonald’s bag while driving? I’ll take a drink on that never have I ever.)

On the way back up north I spent two days in Savannah, GA. I drove on cobblestone and had a great dinner at the riverfront. Sitting in new territory alone, having dinner and a drink. It was nice. Nice is all I needed. I ventured through Forsyth Park since that’s something most people do. It was beautiful. I also got attacked by a gnat brigade.

I went to Nags Head, NC and spent a day on the beach. I took a group hummer trip across the beach to see the wild horses. Everything I did, I was interested in. I was so busy finding things in the past for two, that I forgot I could be interested in stuff alone, and seek it out.

You don’t need to go on a vacation by yourself to reclaim some self-care. Deciding to walk through the park, going to a movie once or twice a month alone, forming habits you do alone that you enjoy — these all count, too.

When life and circumstance change on a downbeat, having an activity that is truly for you can be a lifesaver.

I know what depression is. I lived it for many years. And these self-care actions could have prevented a lot of it.