I understand the title of this article is a little intense.
That’s my point.
Now that I got your attention, let me start by sharing a personal story hoping to inspire you to focus both on the journey and the destination of your dreams, as opposed to the destination only.
I was one of those straight A students in high school who also had many jobs and scholarships to keep up. I’ve had to fend for myself my entire life and practically raise myself. This made me resilient but also a perfectionist. It can be a quality, but also a fault.
In University, I had a job and side gigs, such as writing my book to share my story and to fundraise for a scholarship for kids in care. I just wanted to achieve all my targets, whether it cost me my health, or not. I just didn’t give any importance to sleep or rest.
So I need to mention this to give you a better understanding of why I was so devoted and still am. I loved making my own money and sustaining myself, but I also felt I had to get to the finish line even faster to prove to myself that I was capable and strong and that I would never break… I thought I was invincible. I wanted to inspire other foster kids and I still want to inspire kids who come from nothing, no parents, no money, to show them they can do it.
I want my destination so badly, but at the same time, I learned that I need to focus on the journey too.
Sometimes we may find basic needs are so basic that we can dismiss them as unimportant. How many of us dismiss eating a good breakfast, daily alone time, daily exercise, occasional date nights, little luxuries like tea and a book, etc.
Even deeper rooted in those with similar childhoods as me: I was shipped from foster home to foster home. The point of this story sharing is for others to relate to why perfectionism can sometimes be rooted in the most basic needs not being met in our childhood and why self neglect is a common factor in perfectionists. The importance of self care in cases similar to mine is important and symbolic.
Ask your fellow perfectionists how much sleep, water, and wholesome foods they get?
Yeah, not much at all!
So in terms of basic needs, how can we balance health, while being productive towards our goals? We can stay motivated, while taking care of our health.
People tend to tell me I am very ambitious and driven, but what they don’t see is the behind the scenes.
Sure, I have a career that I deeply love, an amazing side business, loving friends whom are my family, supportive fans and mentors (I love you!), but what you don’t see is the person who gets so crazy about her goals and deprives herself of basic needs.
An example is how OCD I get about keeping my hips to waist ratio perfect, not because my agency tells me to, but because I want to stay this way, and I sometimes deprive myself of little basic treats that I love like cupcakes, creme fraiche ice creme and Starbucks fraps. I now have a treat meal once a week to enjoy life all while being fit. I have my treat when I crave it, in a format that does not make me feel sick.
One night during my first year of University, I was coming home from work and I also needed to study for a test and had run out of time. I decided to experiment with ways to stay awake later and longer.
Yes, I am the person who drove herself almost to cardiac arrest in her first year of University for mixing espresso shots and energy drinks. The heart palpitations were very intense, but that was not enough to scare me. I cannot tell you whether it was arrhythmia or just palpitations because I did not take my pulse at the time, but I can tell you that my chemical concoction was indeed a drug… In first year University, I can understand why grades were so important because the only hope I had for paying for University were scholarships via hard work so I can now forgive myself for almost driving myself to a dangerous experience.
I was 95 pounds, so the amount of energy drinks and espresso shots I did really affected me. In addition, I used to have 4 Ventis with 4 espresso shots four times a day during University years, I skipped meals because who has time for eating right? Oh and sleeping, well, who cares because “money does not sleep.”
I know better now. I’ve learned that health is my most important asset.
Anything that goes up must come down, anything that accelerates your system can also depress basic organ functions. The chemical mixture of espresso and energy drinks sounds pretty alright, I mean, don’t we drink this shit everyday? The issue is that too much of something can be bad, and it affects everyone differently and is worse on an empty stomach. It can slow or cease the absorption of nutrients and so how long can you really live on espresso shots and bare minimal food? After doing this for a while, my friends cautioned me to slow down and start eating regularly again.
How could I have loved myself so little to drive myself almost to death after countless burnouts? I just did not know any better at the time. Now I stay fit for mentally releasing stress and lowering cortisol, not just for looks.
Death need not be purely physical. How about the death of my soul, how is my soul supposed to feel alive?
I am accomplishing so much and looking good on the outside, but if my basic needs for sleep, good healthy foods and exercise are not met, how is that even a life worth living?
I was debating whether or not I wanted to share this with the world, but I may as well, shortly after the energy drinks and heart palpitations episode, I lost some weight and was often sick so I found a psychologist to help with perfectionism. They taught me Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it works!
Today, I have a coach who helps me with spirituality which really helps me stay grounded in the process of achieving my monumental goals. I recommend coaches to anyone as they keep you accountable.
I now can say I prefer to be at a steady pace on my journey towards my goals, rather than sprint and die before I even achieve it.
No joke, anyone who knows me knows that I eat Kale daily, I decline outings if I have not slept enough, and I refuse to put anything or anyone above my basic health needs and exercise and health food choices.
I am done with burn outs and if it means driving slower to arrive to my destination alive, so be it.
I hope this helps a few people realize that a weekly break can do wonders. One gym day per week can do wonders. Some time reading a book for fun can do wonders. Most importantly, let no one stop you from getting the beauty rest that you need and deserve, many people may look at you weird for preferring to “do nothing” or “alone time” as we’re all so fast paced, but who cares!
Do whatever YOU need in order to stay sane as you are responsible for your assets and health is one of them, take it seriously.
So please know that self care is not selfish it’s self-FIRST!
Personally, I may need time away from everyone and need to shut down alone to recharge, while others may need a night out, it does not matter – just do what’s right for you in terms of rejuvenating.
Cherish your soul, mind and body on the way to your goal, breathe, you’re deserving of your own love.
Karisa Karmali’s business, The Art of Attitude™, offers event hosting, public speaking and promotional modelling services. The Art of Attitude © is also the title of Karisa Karmali’s book, from which she is donating half of proceeds to the Just One Person Scholarship for ‘Youth in Care’, of the University of Ottawa.
Image credit: CC by Tony Lam