For most people, writer’s block comes when they can’t think of anything to say. I am not most people. I experience writer’s block most frequently when I have a lot to say. There are so many ideas. There is so much emotion. The passion is overwhelming. I don’t even know where or how to start.
I’m not going to tip-toe around the point of this post because I have a lot to say and I don’t want to risk losing your attention: I am taking this semester off from school.
The official term is “taking a hiatus”. I like this term; “I’m taking a hiatus” sounds and feels a lot better than “yeah, I decided to drop out.” Hey, I’m a writer; words are important to me like that.
My hip injury has plagued me for nearly 10 years now. I first fractured my femur in January of 2005 and I’ve always told people that not coming home to take care of myself was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. I didn’t want to miss out or lose momentum, so I kept on pushing through and I’ve been doing it ever since.
As luck would have it, I somehow re-injured my hip last week. It’s not going to require surgery, but the recovery process is going to be long. Most of my surgeries have occurred mid-semester. It’s easy to push through when you’re halfway there, thoroughly invested in your coursework, and have a reliable reputation as a decent student. But I don’t have any of that right now. I’m a week in and it feels like it’s mile 21 of a marathon. None of my professors know me. And I have the luxury of looking behind at the past for a glimpse of what my future would hold should I decide to push through just one more time.
The truth is I didn’t have to withdraw. If you were to look at the history of my injury, you’d probably ask, “Why now? The one time you DON’T need surgery is the one time you DO withdraw? What’s up with that?” Good question. I could have done it. I know I could have. But at what cost?
One of my greatest concerns about deciding to withdraw was what people were going to think and say. I felt like I needed a really good reason to do it. I think a lot of us fall into that trap. We think that we should stay in school until we literally can’t do it anymore; until we’re checked into the hospital for some physical, mental, or emotional diagnoses or threatened within an inch of our lives. Who made up that rule? It’s backwards. The whole thing is backwards.
We think we need a really good reason to take a semester off. And we do. But we need to change our definition of what a good reason really is.
Traditionally, it is in my nature to continue pushing through until my life, body, and sanity shatter into a million pieces. That takes awhile to clean up and I’m usually practically useless for the first several months of the process. It’s horrible. It’s scary. It’s messy. But for some reason I believed that it was the only permissible way.
Today, I’m doing things a little bit differently. I’m in tune with my body, my mind, and my environment. I can sense danger and make choices that will protect and preserve me. I let myself look at the broken pieces and pick them up rather than waiting until things shatter into dust.
I’ve decided to take the semester off because it’s what’s best for me. I need to let my body heal. I’ve been at war with my body for nearly a decade now. It drains me of my energy, enthusiasm, patience, and capacity to love. I’m tired of that. My body is pleading with me for care and attention and it’s pulled my soul on board as well.
My “free time” will be well spent. I plan on investing in my blog, working on my freelance career, reading fiction and non-fiction books, learning to cook, and dedicating myself wholeheartedly to rehabilitating my hip. I plan on being a mom to my daughter. I plan on filling my lungs with air and breathing again.
The title of this post is “Summer Suits You”. I know that summer is nearly over, but the title really has nothing to do with summertime and everything to do with 3 words spoken to me by my marketing professor several months ago. It was a few weeks after graduation and I ran into her in Target. We were chatting for a good 20 minutes when she looked at me and said, “Gosh Brittany, summer suits you.” She wasn’t talking about my tan or my cute sundress. She was talking about my affect. I laughed at the time, but I was also a little bit sad. I was sad that the difference between the “School Brittany” and the “Summer Brittany” was so drastic. I wanted to spend the summer getting to a place in my mind where I could maintain the summer affect in the midst of a semester at college.
I didn’t quite meet the mark on that one, but I’ve bought myself some extra time. I want to find that place in my mind where summer and winter combine and form something glorious. I know it exists. I know it’s possible. And I believe this hiatus is my opportunity to press in rather than push through.
What steps do you take to engage in self-care?
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