How I Reluctantly Learned Self-Care

Chewie didn't pee on my sweater; I just smell bad.

That was the realization that started it all. This past Friday, I made a commitment to taking time to care for myself. I'd always hated the term "self-care." Honestly, it always just sounded like a big waste of time to me. And it had nothing to do with not wanting to be an adult. If anything, I've always felt like I was doing fabulous at the whole adult thing. I'm 25; I own a home; I run two startups; I'm married; I have a dog. That, plus juggling freelance work, teaching jobs, and grad school, all made me feel like I had my whole life together. 

Until last week's realization made me realize how much I was neglecting myself.
I should probably just put myself in the washing machine.

So, a couple weeks ago, I was at work wearing a sweater I'd picked up off the floor of my bedroom that morning. (The floor is where I store all the clothes that I insist are clean because I've only worn them once/twice/a few times, who's counting?) I noticed a really gross smell that kept coming from my sweater. It smelled kind of like Chewie does when he hasn't had a bath for a month. Sometimes, Chewie sleeps in the piles of clothes I leave on the floor, because they smell like his humans. When I was on the train the next day, I sat next to a homeless guy whose bag looked like it had fallen in a puddle of pee. I realized that was the same smell my sweater had, and I concluded, Chewie must've peed on my sweater! Now, Chewie normally wouldn't do that to me, so I didn't understand why he suddenly would. But I put my sweater in the dirty clothes pile (which was just another little mountain of clothes on the other side of the room) and forgot about it.

The next Friday, I woke up to that same smell. My sweatshirt smelled like it. My hair smelled like it. My entire side of the bed smelled like it. There was no way Chewie had peed on me while I was sleeping--first, because he wouldn't do that to me; if he needs to pee he always whines until I take him out, and second, because there was no pee spot anywhere near me. Chewie was sleeping next to me on the bed, but he didn't smell as bad as I did. So it wasn't him.

Then, I thought back to the last time I showered, and realized it was probably the previous Monday, though I couldn't remember for sure. And I looked at the clothes I was wearing, which I'd gotten from the same pile on the floor where my sweater was--a pile of clothes that had been sitting on the floor for a month, never getting washed, just fermenting in their own stale body odor. It suddenly hit me.

Chewie didn't pee on my sweater; I just smell bad.

It made sense, too. The guy I'd sat next to on the train likely smelled that way because he didn't have access to a shower. I did have access to a shower, but I wasn't using it. I smelled like a person who did not shower. Because I didn't. 

Something about that moment made me realize I needed to make a change. It's no secret that I'm a workaholic, and that I prioritize my career above literally everything else. How had I gone nearly five days without showering, without realizing it? Running around the city to work, and class, and all these different jobs? All while wearing clothes that were last washed who-knows-when?

My friend Aimee suggested I make a sticker chart to remind myself when I need to shower, and that after earning a certain number of stickers, I can get a prize. I can train myself like I train Chewie! So I made a chart in my bullet journal. I have to shower four times a week to earn a sticker. After five weeks (with four showers each week), I can get myself a prize. Sure, I'm an adult who makes my own money and I can buy myself these prizes whenever I want. But I have to exercise this bit of self-control here. So, after five weeks of frequent showering, I'll allow myself to get a new piercing or get my hair dyed again. Things that I don't normally spend my money on.

I also made a chart to motivate me and Tyler to clean our house more. We often let mold grow in the sink because we both forget to do the dishes. And we forget to do the laundry. See the aforementioned disgusting clothes I was wearing. So now we have to do the dishes and the laundry every Friday to earn a sticker. And when we get five stickers, we can go out for a nice dinner together! (Saving nice dinners as a prize should also motivate us to cook more. That way we can save money and stop getting so fat.)

I got myself excited about showering by buying some new non-animal-tested hair products, hoping that would make showering more fun. Honestly, I hate this shit more than anything in the world. I hate wasting time in the shower. I hate wasting time doing the dishes or putting laundry away or making dinner when there's a McDonald's less than a block away. But I'm hoping this will pay off.

What are your favorite self-care tips?



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