Love & Care Are Sometimes The Only Thing You Need To Keep Going

Love & Care Are Sometimes The Only Thing You Need To Keep Going

How creating environments in which people treat each other with positivity and support can make all the difference.

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As a dance major, I have experienced a lot of long days, stressful weeks, and pressure in my first semester. Its been challenging physically, but even more so mentally, consistently second-guessing myself and doubting my abilities. This past week was production week for Nutcracker, which was my first full-stage production at Butler. I was exhausted and anxious the entire week, trying to keep my schedules straight, get enough sleep, eat well, and perform at my best constantly. The stress leading up to opening night was terrible, and I didn't know how I would get through the weekend.

In preparation for our first show, I experienced so much love the second I arrived at the theater. Each class within the dance department organizes a secret Santa, and we are very enthusiastic about it. As I came into the dressing room I watched all of the first and second-year dancers run around preparing surprises for their gift recipient. We were all so devoted to making each other feel special and supported before our first show. I had chocolate delivered to my dressing room as I was finishing doing my hair and the smile on everyone's faces as they received their surprise filled the theater with positive energy.

After warm-up class, I returned to the dressing room to find a present from the lead dancers from a scene in which I was in the ensemble. Some of the upperclassmen explained that every lead gives gifts to the other dancers in their scene before opening night. It was such a kind and supportive gesture, one that made all of the corps girls feel like part of a team and loved. All of the freshmen were so shocked to be brought thoughtful gifts by dancers that we looked up to and aspired to become.

By closing night, everyone had thoroughly planned their secret Santa reveal, decorated each other's makeup stations and hand-delivered gifts with sweet notes. Everyone was thrilled to get final gifts from their friends and even more excited to see the reaction of the person they were surprising. I couldn't help but feel the support putting compliments on my person's mirror and leaving her her final gift, and the love only grew when my secret Santa brought me my present and gave me a huge hug. What's more, a senior came to our dressing room to give all of the first years presents and told us how beautiful we all are and how much she loves us.

I know these things seem just like fun presents for our friends during a fun performance weekend, but it really did make all of the stress and exhaustion that much easier. The first years were all shocked by the love that went around the dance department that weekend. Leaving the last show we told each other how happy we were to be in this dance department with these people. The positive impact of some love, support, and good energy made something that was busy and challenging into something that made all of us grateful for where we are and really happy. This weekend really showed me how important it is to surround myself with loving people and to show the people around me how much I appreciate and care about them.

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An Open Letter To My Unexpected Best Friend

You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better.
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“It’s so amazing when someone comes to your life and you expect nothing out of it but suddenly there right in front of you is everything you ever need.”

-Unknown

Dear Unexpected Best Friend,

You were the person I never thought I would speak to and now you are my very best friend. You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done to shape me into the person I am today. You’ve taught me what it means to be selfless, caring, patient, and more importantly adventurous.

You don’t realize how much better my life has become and all because you came out of nowhere. I didn’t see you coming. I just saw you on occasion, and now I can’t see my life without you in it. It’s funny how life works itself out like that. Our unexpected friendship filled a hole in my life that I didn’t know existed.

I don’t even remember what life was like before you came along; it most likely had a lot less laughter and spontaneity than it does today. I can call you about anything and you would drop whatever you're doing to help me in any situation. You know when I need encouragement. You know when I am at my best and when I am at my worst. You always know exactly what to say.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

I couldn’t have found a better friend than you if I tried. We balance each other out in the best way possible. You are most definitely the ying to my yang, and I don’t care how cliché that sounds. Because of you, I’ve learned to stop caring what people think and to do my own thing regardless of any backlash I might receive. You are my very favorite part of what makes me who I am to this day.

It’s as if I wished up a best friend, and poof—you appeared right in front of me. I am so beyond blessed to have you and I wouldn’t trade the world for all our memories. Thanks for coming out of nowhere.

Love you forever and a day.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Medders

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In 2019 We Are Redefining Self-Care Because Life Is Not Toxic, Your Attitude Is

Nothing is more important than taking care of your mental health. Period. But think twice before cutting someone out of your life and deeming them "toxic"

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"When we self-regulate well, we are better able to control the trajectory of our emotional lives and resulting actions based on our values and sense of purpose."
-Amy Leigh Mercree

With the new year inspiring all part of our lives, it's important to address this idea of 'self-care' that is so widely preached. Self-care, simply defined, is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. However, these lines have seemed to be blurred to a significant extent lately.

Our society has taken a few steps back in the treatment of our fellow peers lately. Whether it's the force of authoritarian violence, neo-nazi rallies, objectification of women, or denial of human rights to various non-dominant groups-- there is no denying that America has some strides to make. But how?

How, in such an individualistic society, do we learn that depending on people is a vulnerable strength rather than a weakness? In a country that places emphasis on being self-made, we are trained to believe that any form of codependency makes one weaker. So, we practice "self-care". We cut off those confrontational friends that try to change our life plans. We toss the relationships that don't support us in every decision we make. We quit jobs that make us unhappy after three weeks. We label everything as "toxic" when in reality it's just something that has denied us of that American instant gratification we crave so innately.

Relationships, whether friendships, intimate connections, or professional careers are not a singular commitment. So many apathetic actions are cloaked under this blanket of "self-care". There is a limit between watching out for your mental health and using it as an underlying excuse to hurt those around you. Just because you are troubled for a short period doesn't always mean that the person is "toxic" to you. Sometimes, it serves as an indicator that this relationship is worth working through and working for.

Now, I am a huge proponent for taking care of yourself in daily activities! Through a life of mindfulness and meditation, memories with good friends, and hobbies that fulfill you, it is still important to check in with yourself and see what attitudes need to be managed. But instead of making rash decisions and dropping everyone around you in your life, take these feelings inwards and work on yourself. If you feel a relationship not working, ask yourself whether its a conflict of interest or ideology, maybe even a miscommunication--instead of breaking things off and insisting you're an "independent woman" who was "being held back". There is pride in working through issues, but only if you allow yourself to be codependent.

This is by far my greatest struggle in life. The second things go wrong in a relationship, I just convince myself that I am independent--I was on my own before and I can sure as hell do it again! I convince myself that the other person just wasn't "the one" or that "if my friendships are meant to be, they'll just...be?" I'm here to tell you that I understand what it's like being an independent person trying to let people in. But please, just don't use your inability to transparently work through issues as "self-care."

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