I have developed an undying loyalty to my work ethic.
One of the earliest lessons I learned was to take pride in my work. My reputation as a go-getter is my first impression to the world, and as a woman of color, it's important that people know that I walk it like I talk it (cue Drake and The Migos).
As a bonafide workaholic, I can respect the intensity that goes into being an entertainer. If you work hard, you play hard, but women like me seem to only focus on the work part. Social media can never really depict the work that goes into creating a masterpiece, but even Michelangelo had to take a nap from time to time. And women like Oprah and Beyonce didn't become worldwide icons without taking a few hours a week to focus on self-care. Even legends have to take time for personal maintenance. Even if that legend is you.
One of the top female R&B artists in the industry just gave us a lesson in self-care and is a reminder that we have to listen when our bodies speak to us. It was recently announced that SZA would sit out the next few shows of the TDE Championship Tour and the singer subsequently wrote a message to her fans that read:
"I've been touring for 11 months. This didn't happen overnight. I've been troubleshooting for a while now and usually steroids and pushing through help. They don't this time. I'm not sick my voice just won't f*cking work. If I don't pause now I'll be forced to pause permanently. I'm genuinely sorry for every face, voice, and energy field I won't be touching! I'm literally taking as many steroids as I can to speed this up!! It's a waiting game and super weird to be blamed for stuff outta my control but I get i! again .. I'm sorry..I'll be right back. Pray for me or don't. Preciate u either way ❤️-S"
The singer was understandably devastated and as a woman of color especially, I feel for her. Sometimes your mind says go harder when your body is saying wait a minute, now. It's so easy to ignore the messages that our body sends us in pursuit of our dreams, but this blind ambition can be crippling.
Your body is your first and only home, so when it says you're tired, take a nap. When it says you're hungry, eat, f*ck that diet. When your body tells you it needs a break, you have to make the choice to happily oblige because the inevitable alternative is self-destruction.
If hard work and intense ethic are as orgasmic to you as they are to me, these tips might help you optimize your productivity while helping you find the time for self-care:
Schedule It Out
The Eve app has been a lifesaver for me. As women, our bodies work on cycles, which for the most part are consistent each month. By cycles, I don't just mean your period. Even when you're not menstruating, your body has a predictable routine that you can monitor to see how you'll feel each day of the month. Some days, I'm super active and can knock out a ton of work at a time. Other days, I have to use a rule where I work for an hour and break for thirty minutes because my hormones are wonky, my attention span goes to sh*t, and my anxiety is high. I used this app to get to know my body and schedule out a routine that works according to my needs for self-care.
If You Tired, Be Quiet, And Go to Sleep
"I have one more hour in me," I said six hours ago.
One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is to go to sleep when I'm tired. I personally don't believe that my level of fatigue is an indicator of how hard I can go today but who am I to say. Really, who am I to say?
I've noticed that I work harder and better when I'm not tired, so my remedy is to take a f*cking nap. SZA teaches us that sometimes what our mind and our bodies feel don't align. When all else fails, evaluate your physical. Are you well rested enough to operate at your full potential?
Don't Sweat the Small Sh*t
The TDE Championship Tour is a huge event to be a part of, and I can understand SZA's pain in having to withdraw. And for self-care, pshhh. Who needs it?
You. You need it. And so do I and so does SZA. Having to take a break now means ensuring the security of her career for a lifetime, and that's a choice a lot of women have to make. Self-care takes time, that same time that you could be using to blissfully pursue your dreams and ultimately crash and burn because you weren't really looking out for you. Though SZA having to sit out for part of the tour is a bummer, we have to keep in mind that she may not even be able to use her talent if she doesn't take heed of the messages her body has given her.
There will be more opportunities but there is only one you.
Don't Call it a Comeback
Taking time for self-care doesn't mean giving up your dreams. SZA said in her message that it sometimes feels like a waiting game and we can all relate to having a period in life when we were ready to get back in the game but the coach said no.
A few months ago, I was going so hard that I barely ate or slept and I certainly wasn't taking care of my body. I was so immersed in my work that I didn't realize I was speeding down a path in the wrong direction because even though I didn't know wtf I was really doing or why I was doing it, my goal was to work hard. During this period, a cyst appeared that I was forced to get surgically removed and I was put on bedrest for six weeks.
I didn't have a job, or any form of revenue, and I spent the first two weeks crying about my inability to work. After my tantrum, I took the remainder of my recovery time to check in with me. I focused on making myself feel good, watching things on TV that made me happy, and spending time with people that love me.
During that time, I secured not one but two freelance positions and every aspect my life seemed to fall back in order effortlessly and naturally. I didn't have to rush it, or be #TeamNoSleep to accomplish my goals. But I did need time to check in with me and figure out what I needed before I could resume my regularly scheduled grind.
SZA is a testament to the fact that hard work pays off, but attention to self-care will keep you paid in full.
Featured image via SZA/Instagram