Learning to Lean on Others
December 23, 2020
I got a text last night from one of my best friends in the program stating, “If I ever come to you seeking advice and you don’t have the mental capacity just let me know! And I seriously am here whenever you need advice or to vent!” To give you context to this message, earlier that day my friend had overheard me sigh heavily after looking at my phone. She asked what was wrong, and I explained that sometimes I just get overwhelmed by the number of people I feel like rely on me, even if deep down I know that they will be alright if I don’t answer their text or don’t help them problem-solve a solution to an issue. If friends, acquaintances, or family reach out to me, I know they believe I can help them and I feel compelled to go above and beyond in order to make their lives a little bit easier. I felt weird saying this out loud and immediately felt a sense of shame about believing that there was a lot of pressure on me to fulfill a role no one actually expects me to fulfill.
As occupational therapists, we are tasked with making meaningful occupations more accessible to our clients. I love my job, but I do find it difficult to switch off my “OT” lens/brain when I leave work or school.
I sat and tried to process how I could prevent this from happening and I soon came to terms with the fact that I will never fully feel like me unless I am there to listen to my friends or assist with problem-solving a solution to an issue they are experiencing. I feel honored to be someone that people feel comfortable confiding in and I take great pride in being there to help them better understand their worth, capabilities, and strengths.
For that reason, I have decided to focus on the second part of my friend’s message: “I am here if you need me.” I am so willing to be there for others to help them overcome hurdles to participating in their meaningful occupations, but I rarely find myself reaching out to others when I need help myself. I immediately replied to my friend and told her that I will definitely take her up on her offer because I know she truly means it. I also know that every one of my friends and family would do the same and that I am not a nuisance to any of them. I am not myself without my meaningful occupations, and I typically refrain from participating in them if I am overwhelmed or stressed. If people in my life are willing to come and open up to me then I should be willing to do the same! That way we can all participate in the activities and occupations that make us feel whole again . . . I mean I am definitely not the best version of myself unless I go on a walk/run outside, take a warm shower, and get at least 7 hours of sleep.
So if you’re like me and you can’t seem to step away from the OT mindset even when you leave work, that is ok! Just know that you are surrounded by people who want to help you in the same way . . . even if they haven’t officially been trained to do it 😉. Know that you are not a burden and make sure that you are allowing yourself the opportunity to participate in the occupations that are most meaningful to you!