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Aug 31, 2021

Having a Voice: For Ourselves

By: Julia Van Huizen

I used to do a lot of acting. Especially when I was in high school. In fact, I once played Oliver in the musical Oliver Twist, but one week before curtain drop, I lost my voice. I literally could barely be heard above a whisper.

I know why I lost my voice.

I was burnt out. Although I was only in high school, I was involved in everything. I was on Student Council. I was in concert choir. I played soccer, had a boyfriend and a part-time job. I strived to get A+’s in school and A+’s in life in general. Already in my teens, I was someone who said “yes” to everything and everyone, and it was taking its toll.

Years later, as a mom, wife and worker, I realize that that teenage girl who didn’t know how to have just a few priorities in her life—rather than a thousand—still lives in me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m way better at saying “no.” That’s not the problem. The problem is that I still don’t know how to prioritize my self. Greg McKeown in the Dream Big podcast “Clearing Out the Nonessential” says that if you don’t take responsibility for the prioritization of your life, then someone else will take control of that prioritization. And I see that happen in my life all the time. I try to fit in a workout, but my kids want me to make them a snack. I try to read a book for a few minutes, only to have the dog beg me to take him for a walk. I’m about to take a bath, but my husband wants to chat. And I shuffle and I shuffle and I shuffle my priorities until there’s nothing left for myself.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this problem. My husband used to wear a shirt that read, “Let me drop everything and work on YOUR problem.” I can’t tell you how often he was stopped and someone said, “I need that shirt!”

But maybe I don’t need a shirt to wear to remind me to take care of myself. Maybe I can start today to take responsibility for the prioritization of my life, including self care.

Maybe today I can put myself on my “To Do” list. I can choose to have a voice. For myself.