"I don't owe anything to anyone other than myself."
That's what I was thinking as I lay in bed at 4:30 in the morning recently, awake because I had been thrashing around in that mucus-infused stupor known by the congested the world over. I was mentally debating whether or not it was justified for me to take a sick day that day (a thought process which was clearly aiding my "fall back asleep, dammit" mission). And ultimately I decided I should.
Here's the thing: I am sometimes selfless about stupid things. And I am sometimes loyal to a fault.
It's all over the internet that [the old standard of company loyalty is dead](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/jobs/24search.html?_r=0). Careers are a much more fluid thing, employees much less likely to stay with the same company for their entire decades-long career, or even for ONE decade, at that. And yet as the young employee that I am, I find it hard to separate business from personal when I think about some day moving on to another job.
My heart is all, "Oh, but the people are so good to me, and I've learned so much, and how are they going to do x, y, and z without me, and who will know how to do a and b???"
Taking a sick day is a microcosm of leaving a job, and somehow I've struggled with it. I feel like I need to be on death's door to deserve one, truly unable to get up out of bed. I always wish I would run a fever, because that seems like an acceptable excuse.
But having not slept for several hours of my night, and feeling the beginnings of a wicked headache coming on, I had a "duh" moment: I could take a sick day. I mean, they give us several of them for the year, and I've only ever taken one.
We wear this as a badge of honor: oh, I've never taken a sick day.
And yet who are we really serving when we come to work hacking and sniffling, toting Kleenex with us from meeting to meeting, staring blearily at our computer screens with heads feeling full of cotton?
We're certainly not serving ourselves well, our ailing bodies that scream for a blanket, a mug of tea, and saltine crackers. And I'd argue that we're not really serving our company well either, by not bringing our best selves to the floor. And we're not serving our co-workers or customers well by handing them our germs on a silver platter.
So I took a damn sick day.
I even kept plans that night that I had painstakingly made ages ago. I couldn't really rearrange them, and I wanted to go. I felt like I was breaking the rules. My mom always used to tell me that if I was sick enough to stay home from school, then I was too sick to go to swim practice (yes, I was the crazy dedicated girl who would try to do that). But I'm an adult! I am capable of gauging my body's needs and weighing them against the tasks in front of me and making the decision.
I went to work the next day even though I still wasn't feeling 100% because there was a task that I truly was, on that day, the only one equipped for doing. There are times when that will be the case. There are times when we need to suck it up, take the Dayquil, and power through. What I'm learning is to recognize the difference.
I tweeted this not long ago:
Self-care means providing yourself with good food, whatever that means for you. Organic kale salad & hot chocolate are equally acceptable.
— Laura Lindeman (@lclindeman) January 30, 2014
It's all about self-awareness. Most of the time we need kale, for its nutrients and health benefits. And a lot of times kale is yummy! But sometimes, we emotionally need the hot chocolate, WITH whipped cream.
A sick day is like that hot chocolate: we can be strong and get shit done, but sometimes we need to give ourselves grace.
So this is me, saying you're allowed to take a sick day sometimes.