Dear UMass Student,
Living in a pandemic during intense political polarization has not been easy. Compounded by traumatic violence directed towards Black and Brown people, self-care during these challenging times has been a struggle. Quite honestly, I have consistently struggled with self-care for much of my life. Raised in a Dominican family, self-care was never discussed at home. When I first started to hear about it, I just assumed it meant going shopping or getting a manicure and pedicure! Don’t get me wrong, self-care is not a bad thing. After all, it just means taking care of yourself and prioritizing your needs. This is a good thing, right? Of course it is! So why do I struggle with it?
Like so many aspects of our capitalist society, self-care has seemingly been co-opted and commodified for profit. Nowadays you find an infinite array of workout videos, selfies, pre- and post- body transformation photos, meditation and yoga photos on Instagram and Facebook. In addition, there are infinite amounts of beauty products, oil diffusers, and workout classes being marketed for purchase. No wonder self-care seems like one more thing on our checklists!
The irony and power of self-care is that it’s not as much about what we are doing, but rather in who we are being. As Audre Lorde so powerfully stated “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” (Lorde, 1998). As a Black feminist lesbian poet and scholar, Lorde was keenly aware that unapologetically loving oneself is vital for the survival of minoritized people. Real self-care is hard because it is about allowing yourself to feel and stand in your truth no matter how painful it might be. It’s about surviving and thriving in a system that often lacks empathy and compassion. Only through authenticity can you engage in radical self-love, healing and a form of self-care that is meaningful, transformative, and liberatory.
So remember to take time to slow down, engage in self-care and notice how you are being because the way you are being and showing up determines what is possible and not possible.