Everyone, regardless of being healthy or not, wants to put their best self out there. On social media all you see are pictures of smiling faces and perfect white teeth, makeup to hide the imperfections, etc.
I think it’s only natural to want to look and be at our best. Especially when it comes to public settings. But what do you do when you can’t put your best foot forward every day?
What can you do when putting your best, optimal self out there is NOT an option? Like, NEVER an option or even listed as a possibility.
Below average is all you get, at different and varying degrees- each day- and you never know what the day will bring. What do you do?
Do you risk weird looks from strangers at the grocery store? Do you avoid the public as often as you can? Is it worth it to push yourself to look “presentable” when you don’t have any energy and risk the consequences later? Or do you just say “Oh well, this is what I’ve got to deal with today, we gotta get stuff done regardless!”?
My idea of being at your BEST looks like this – – It is easier to tackle the days challenges at home or at work because you look and feel well. You have a clear mind to accomplish tasks, so you are productive. You picked out your clothes the night before, put on some makeup and fiddled with your hair so it looks purposefully done. You look put together! You are feeling capable and you appear healthy!
As you work your way backwards from your best, it becomes harder and harder to tackle the day. We are talking– lack of sleep making you tired, maybe you didn’t eat a proper meal or you feel dehydrated, you’ve got dark circles under your eyes and you start risking added sickness. Things can start to snowball and your BEST begins to fade away into the distance. Your mind doesn’t feel focused or clear because it’s so exhausted from all the physical mess going on with your body.
It takes energy you don’t have just to get in the shower and put clothes on. Washing your hair and shaving your legs may be out of the question. The pants you wore for only a couple hours yesterday, will do just fine again today. You likely know what I’m talking about!
When you don’t feel well, you can’t ever be at your BEST. At least this is my experience living with Crohn’s disease.
When I physically don’t feel well, I notice I tend to care less about how I appear on the outside. How I feel on the inside gets my full attention because I have limited physical energy and effort to put into other things. So I choose to focus my efforts on what I think is most important. And in my brain, that will always be trying to heal my insides, both body and mind.
To answer the question, what do you do when you can never put your Best Self forward?
I say, Don’t!
When your best isn’t an option, because you are struggling with a chronic illness, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot push yourself further than what you are actually capable of. If best can’t happen because well can’t happen, then so be it.
Here is what I suggest instead– re-define what your best self looks like! So basically taking your ‘below average’ and slapping a ‘best’ label on it.
What are you capable of, most days? Putting on pants, washing your body, smiling, hair in a messy bun? Okay great, that can be your new BEST to strive for! If there is something more important you want to include in your new BEST SELF, prioritize it and know that you may have to sacrifice something to make that happen. We have limited energy so we can’t do it all. For example, some days I wake up looking like a zombie and a smile isn’t gonna make that passable in public. So, I put makeup on because I don’t want to scare anyone, but on those days something else gets put to the wayside. And that’s okay. Figure out your priorities for what means the most to you– on a day to day basis if necessary.
BUT when this re-defined Best Self doesn’t happen one day, know that it’s because you are struggling with the illness. And at that point your only focus should be on taking care of yourself, healing, resting, whatever needs to be done. Go into your cocoon and heal up so you can later re-emerge as your butterfly self. It is allowed and you don’t need to feel bad or guilty about it!
Honestly to struggle is one of our rights as a human being. We don’t have to get everything perfect and right all time. NO ONE has all the answers. We are all just learning as we go. So it’s okay! You are allowed to struggle, be kind to yourself. Remind yourself it’s part of the human condition, and that’s something we all deal with.
What does your “Best Self” look like now-a-days? Does it look different than it used to? Or do you push yourself to look put-together every day? I’m really curious to hear your stories!