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Jess G

Self-Care Through Weariness

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So I know the title sounds pretty contradictory--we generally think of self-care as something that decreases fatigue, not as a cause of it.  Exhaustion is bad.  We're afraid of running out of steam, of burning out.  But stay with me here, and let me know if there's something to this or if it's just the tiredness talking.

If you haven't gathered, I am tired.af right now.  But for one of the best possible reasons.

Horseback riding is something that makes me stupidly, unreasonably happy.  I started when I was tiny, and have been riding for nearly a decade and a half now.  A ride--even a really difficult one--can drag my mood from "depths of stress arghhhhh" to "that just okay joke is comedy gold right now because I'm just so happy" in the space of an hour.

This morning, I left my college campus at 4 AM to travel to a competition a state away, stood around in freezing weather until mid-afternoon, rode for 5 minutes, stood around some more, finally made it to a hotel, did some homework, and now await another early morning (followed by another long drive back to school).  The way these horse shows work is a lot of people do basically the same thing one after the other, and then the judge decides who did it best.  Think of it like dance, but if everyone had to do the same routine.  That means the day is very long, repetitive, and difficult to explain to visiting family members.  ("No, did you see that rider's leg slip around the turn? That was what confused the horse, so he didn't have a very good jump.  ...I know he didn't knock it over, he didn't have to, it's about form and posture and stuff....")

All of this might sound like a rough day--and it is!  It's a very demanding operation, and it carries the risk that tiny, tiny mistakes can knock you out of the ribbons--we're talking one foot moves one inch in a direction it's not supposed to go, and you've ruined the round kind of mistakes.  It's tiring, sometimes it's frustrating.

I'm soooo tired... but with the same floaty, unspoilable good mood that I always get from working with horses.  It's a good tired.  It's a fulfilling tired.  I suppose it helps that I did well in my class today, but I've found that the feeling is still there even if I don't.  I still spent the day hanging out with my teammates, in an environment saturated with the thing we all love.  

Maybe there's something to that.  Tired is good, as long as there is a reason for it.  Rest is important, but even more satisfying when it feels earned.  You have to want the tired.  

With that, I have to be awake again soon, for another day at the shows (and tons of responsibility when I get back to campus).  So good night, and let's make exhaustion afraid of us.

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