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  • Dina Cohen

Which Fish Are You?

Do you ever feel like you're high maintenance? Not in terms of needing regular manis and pedis, but when it comes to your basic physical and emotional wellbeing. Can you relate to any of the statements below?

"When I don't eat regular meals and snacks, my head hurts and I get irritable. My friends can go for hours and hours without food and be just fine. I feel like such a baby."

""My husband can instantly fall asleep, even if there's pounding music outside and the light on in the room. I need a quiet, dark, cool room and twenty minutes of winding down before I can even dream of sleep."

"I need be careful not to eat too little or exercise too much in order to get regular periods. But some of my friends are much thinner than I am and never miss a cycle."

"Why do noise and mess overwhelm me? Other people seem to manage just fine."

"I feel like I need more rest and more quiet than other people do. It seems like they can just go, go, go while I need to recharge in between."

If any of these sound familiar, you might be frustrated with yourself. You might wish you were more like some other people you know. It may seem as if life is easier for other them. You might feel resentful that you have different needs. But the truth is, we are all wired differently. It's not a bad thing or a good thing. It's just the way things are.

When my kids got their first pet, we decided to start off with a fish, and not just any fish; we chose the type that was simplest to care for. I wasn't sure how long their excitement would last and I didn't want any creature suffering as a result of their waning enthusiasm. (I also didn't want to take on an extra job!) Although there were some really cool exotic fish on display, many of these required a highly-controlled environment and more frequent maintenance. Keeping them healthy would mean a greater investement of time and effort. So although they looked exciting, we left those in the store and went home with a couple of betta fish. But we didn't choose them because they were BETTER than the other fish. In fact, they're not as exciting as many other fish we saw. We chose them because just happen to need a little less care. They can do fine under a variety of conditions. And just like not all fish can do well without certain conditions being met, not all people do well, either. If you are someone who feels more high-maintenance, it may be frustrating sometimes, but it's definitely not something to feel guilty about. It's the way you were created, or it's a result of having certain life experiences, but it's not something you chose. Under the right conditions, you can thrive.

Ignoring your needs won't make your life better. It'll only make things harder on your body and mind. Accepting your unique needs will actually enhance your life and help you function at your best. If you need glasses, pretending you don't won't help you. You won't be able to read street signs, you won't recognize people, and you might bump into things. Similarly, pretending you can get by with less sleep or less food or less chill time than you need isn't going to do you any favors. It'll just make you feel worse. And pretending you can handle your emotional needs on your own when you really need more support (or pretending you don't have any emotional needs at all) is just going to make things harder in the long run, not easier.

Although it may be hard sometimes, respecting your needs and providing for yourself is an endeavor that pays off big time. Self-acceptance isn't just healthier for you, it will ultimately make life happier, more fulfilling, and more productive. And if you ever get down on yourself, remember that you're a just a fancier sort of fish. For best results, follow your own instruction manual!

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