The Importance of Taking Time for Yourself

By Shannon McCarthy

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

My mom discovered at a fairly young age that I loved to sing. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in front of my dad’s record player, awkwardly wearing a pair of overtly-large headphones, bouncing up and down and humming along to the music. Knowing my dad, it was probably The Beatles but regardless, I just remember how good it felt.

And from that point on I was hooked.

Basically, from Kindergarten to college I was in some type of singing group. Whether I was performing a Carmina Burana with a 75-person choir and symphony orchestra or scatting a solo in an 8-person vocal jazz ensemble – I was singing my heart out. And when being a “choir geek” gives you opportunities like performing in Europe, or at the 2008 Michigan Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C., you take those back-handed comments in stride.

But shortly after starting grad school (and my first full-time job), it all became too much. Between rehearsals, studying and learning a new job – I decided it was best to take a break from singing. It seemed like the easiest fix to easing my hectic schedule.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize until years later, was how damaging that decision was. To take away my favorite past-time, that one “thing” that I truly only did for me – it set into motion a series of events where I started losing control and not taking care of myself. And as a result, it took me years (and lots of therapy) to get myself back into a better mental and physical state. I took away my escape from reality

But the main point I’m trying to get across here is that with all of life’s challenges and demands – whether professional, personal, emotional – everyone needs to take time to do something for ourselves that truly makes us happy.

Ask yourself right now, “What’s something I do for myself that makes me feel good?”

After 7 years of countless therapy sessions, deep soul-searching followed by subsequent uplifting moments in my life, I decided it was time to put myself first. And a part of that journey included revisiting my oldest passion: Singing. I reached out to one of my directors from college who I knew also conducted a local community choir. As fate would have it, they were getting ready to host auditions the following week. I walked into that open rehearsal and sang my little heart out. The director told me he saw my face light up like he’d never seen before, and I knew I was in my happy place again.

We can have the most successful career, beautiful family, big house with the picket fence – but none of it will matter if we don’t take care of ourselves. Find your hobby, find your passion. And feel free to share your story with us.

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