Last Friday, the On This Day app on Facebook brought this status of mine from three years ago to my attention:
“My creative writing teacher was 15 minutes late – for the third time this semester. The last two times, she arrived just as I was leaving, so this time, I grabbed my stuff and dashed out right away. Then I made the mistake of stopping to talk to someone in the hall, and she walked by a few minutes later.
“Took all the fun out of it, I tell ya. Now I feel guilty.
“But I didn’t go back.”
I remember this day well. I was thoroughly fed up with the class. It was about halfway through the semester, and I hadn’t learned anything. The teacher was late frequently. Assignments were never graded in a timely manner. (She was a nice person. This did not mean she was a good teacher.) And to top it all off, I was frustrated that the class was such a disappointment because I had wanted to learn from it.
As it approached the point at which students could leave without penalty if the professor hadn’t arrived, I gathered up my things, determined to not put up with this again. And at 9:15, I left. I was the only one to do so, and I felt kind of funny, but I did it anyway. Then, of course, I saw the teacher in the hall, which made me feel worse, but not enough to make me return.
But now? I am so glad I didn’t go back to that class. I feel no guilt. I was doing nothing wrong, and I was taking care of myself.
Another situation where I’m now pleased with how I handled it involves showers at church camp. There are never really enough for all the girls. When I was a camper, people would loudly complain about how some people were taking way too long. But I was not comfortable going out there in a towel to get dressed somewhere else to save a little time like most of the girls. So I never did.
I felt bad. I knew time and space were limited. But I’m very glad now that I stuck to my guns, even though I did it silently. (And thankfully it’s not an issue now that I’m a counselor and can find alternative opportunities for showering.)
Sometimes I’m very proud of my past self for doing things to take care of me.
Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not advocating skipping classes willy-nilly or purposely inconveniencing people because you can. Responsibility and treating others with consideration are incredibly important and should not be neglected just because you feel like it.
However, your physical and emotional and mental health are also important. Sometimes protecting them involves resisting peer pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable or removing yourself from a stressful situation. Do these things with thought and with care and without inconveniencing others if possible. But make your future self proud by doing things to take care of you.