Who are you? How do you identify? What makes you, you?

You are an educator. Maybe a parent, a son or daughter; maybe you’re a partner, or sibling; perhaps you’re an auntie or an uncle.
We play a lot of roles throughout our life’s journey. Sometimes these roles carry many specific tasks and responsibilities. Oftentimes these roles begin to blur and overlap.
You might be a teacher and a parent, bringing your own children to your school’s fun fair; or perhaps you’re a parent watching your child play a sport with a current or former student. Maybe you are transitioning from being taken care of by your parents to being the caregiver of your parents.

For many years, my sense of identity came from the roles I played in the lives of those around me: teacher, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend. I strived to be the best at each of those roles. However, what the best teacher needed to do for her students, school, colleagues, principal or community didn’t provide me with adequate time or energy to also be the best mother or wife; or to fulfil any of the other roles I played. Perfectionism consumed me for years. The pressure that, in hindsight I realize I at least partially put on myself, led to burnout, resentment and strong feelings of inadequacy on all fronts.

As a new teacher, I often was reminded of the importance of ensuring self-care was a part of my routine. Sure, I went out with friends, had the occasional spa day or enjoyed family time on Saturday mornings; but what I needed extended beyond bubble baths and the occasional child-free shopping trip. What I needed was better day-to-day balance.
What I needed was the time, space and place to breathe. And I needed it everyday.

Breathing, meditating, reflecting, slowing down or stopping, provided me with the opportunity to truly care for myself. Mindfulness became the best mode of self-care for me. Mindfulness taught me that I am worthy; that I am enough. I reconnected with my “self” and relearned what it means to be me; Now I choose me everyday. I have learned to say no to things that drain me. I learned to no longer let myself down; and I continue to make efforts to let go of the guilt associated with feeling as though I’m letting other people down.

In being still and letting go of unattainable expectations I became much more than I was. I began to better understand all that made me me beyond the roles I filled in the lives of my loved ones. I became Amanda. Not mom, not daughter, not teacher; not anything else but myself. I reconnected with the Gardener, the Chef, the Yogi, the Painter, the Musician, the Writer.

So however you identify, remember to take time to be you, for you, everyday.

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