Admit It: You’re Important

I’m in a cabin in the middle of an island in Washington. This is my last night here, in this cabin, by myself, dreaming, and planning, and reflecting, and creating. I took a nap today. I created a plan to move forward into 2017. I reflected on 2016, and all the ups and down and growth that happened. I sat quietly by myself all day, never leaving the cabin. I talked to a friend about my future. I reached out to ask a couple of people for support in reaching my goals. I read a book. I enjoyed every bite of every meal I had. This is definitely one of my greatest pleasures, and one of my greatest self-indulgences… time by myself.

And at the end of this beautiful day, one of four I am spending here, I sat outside on the screened-in porch, listening to the rain and to Oprah read her audiobook “What I Know For Sure,” while smoking a cigar and drinking a glass of good red wine. I listened to her stack universal truths on top of each other, and share with me some of the greatest collective insights I’ve ever heard, and I learned/was reminded of so much truth. But the one that hits me hardest right now is that I deserve to take care of myself, and that nobody will do it for me if I don’t. I have control over this. I brought myself here, in the very literal “I booked this cabin and drove myself way,” but also in the much larger, “I gave myself permission to provide space for myself,” way. I told myself that I am important. I chose me. I stopped apologizing for knowing what I need, for knowing what fills me up and allows me to stretch for great achievements. And I am a better person for that.

As a woman, this is not something that came naturally to me. So often, “me time” is considered to be selfish and self-indulgent. This is particularly true if you are a mom. God forbid if you should ever admit that your children do not completely fulfill you, that you need something outside of them (They don’t, and I do, so there). The only time “me time” is really okayed for a woman in this society is the time we spend on improving our outside appearance… going to the gym, getting a pedicure, getting our hair done. These are all (semi) reasonable things for a woman to spend her time on. But disappearing to the middle of nowhere to work on your soul for several days tends to make people wonder who you think you are and why you think you’re so important. It feels like a drastic step in claiming space for yourself.

The answers to those questions, for me, are simple. I think that I am a person a value. The reason I think I’m so important is because I am so important. I am important as a human being, a person who is worthwhile and completely separate from the roles I play as mother, as partner (not currently, but if I was playing that role), as friend, as lover, as daughter, as employee and as any other role I play for you. I am a being completely separate from all of those things. I have a lot of value to give to the world. I am a human who deserves to figure out what I need and then create space to have those needs met. I am my own unique and amazing person in ways that have nothing to do with the people that I serve in the world. And I deserve to take time for myself, and to take care of myself, and to be centered on self on a consistent basis to make sure that I stay whole and fulfilled and able.

And SO ARE YOU. The real questions are, “Who are you?” and “Why don’t you think that you are important?” We create our own realities. There was a time when I used to think that I could never do things like this trip. “What would people think?” (Secret: Some of them will think you are selfish. Forget them. But some of them will think you are brave. Embrace them.) And you know what? Because I never believed I could do these things, and make room for myself in this world, I didn’t. I didn’t create the space or the money for them, I didn’t create the people and the support I need to make sure that my daughter is well taken care of while I’m not there. And I suffered. I was miserable. I was drained. I was unhappy. I wasn’t present in my life. I wasn’t making an impact. But I was doing what I was supposed to do, right? And I certainly wasn’t selfish.

What I’ve realized is that there are worse things in the world than being selfish. What I’ve realized is that I can give myself permission to want space for myself. What I’ve realized is that when I state strongly that I deserve to be important, suddenly actions like a 4 day retreat by myself for visioning and reflection and writing seem reasonable. In the end, I was the only one ever standing in my way of doing things like this. All the people who might judge me for doing these things are still there. My daughter is still there. All of the outside world responsibilities and demands are still there. But what isn’t there is the guilt that I feel for taking time for myself and stating clearly what I need. What isn’t there is the excuses and stories I used to throw down about how I couldn’t ever do things like disappear for four days in the woods by myself just because I want to and it helps to heal my heart and fill me up.

I’ve started to own my life. I’ve started to believe that I really am important, and that what I need, what makes me happy and fulfilled, is really important. This year, my biggest wish for you is that you are able to do the same. What is it that you want? What are you telling yourself you can’t have? What would change if you suddenly started to believe that you could actually have those things? What actions would you take? I challenge you this week to take a moment to claim at least a couple of minutes, if not hours, or even days (!), just for you, to help fill your soul back up… because you are important, and you do deserve it, and the world will not end when you step away from it for a moment to take care of the most important person you could ever take care of… you.

Jennifer Underwood

About the Author

Jennifer Underwood

Jennifer is a coach, a counselor, and an entrepreneur, who lives in Seattle with her daughter. To find out more, check out the About Me page.

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