Dedicating to self-care

Throughout the past year, I have been committed to self-care, and I truly cannot thank myself more. Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, like many, I have had to address the unnecessary stress and anxiety that has unknowingly plagued me for years. In academic circles, stress and anxiety are often written off as common, a trait of rigor and even healthy for academic excellence. Growing up with marginalized identities, stress and anxiety are inevitable characteristics of being yourself and having to confront the world each day. Even more so, being raised with poor, hard working immigrant parents meant that stress and anxiety were an incorporated aspect of my childhood and were precisely the reason I could even eat each day. Every corner that I looked, not only was this overwhelming cloud of worry there, but it was accepted as natural and necessary. Consequently, it was no surprise that after entering into college, feeling burned out and overly anxious did not raise any red flags, especially when there were parties every week, and I had finally uncovered what independence from my parents was like. 

I did not realize how unhealthy and toxic my mindset and habits were until I was forced to address them at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of my habits were dependent on others, dependent on loud social situations and never truly addressed the source of my stress or anxiety. They merely put a loud blind cap on my problems for the night and acted as a mental barrier to the looming terror that would be next week’s duties. As the lockdown started, and we all essentially hibernated in fear for weeks on end, I was thrown into the same dynamic I left from and was still feeling extremely anxious, ravaging through past memories and mistakes and with no usual way to feel as if I relieved myself from anxiety. 

This short spiral into an existential crisis led me, thankfully, to finding peace in commitment to self-care. I committed to morning and nightly yoga, meditation and implemented workout sessions as an essential part of my day. I developed a skincare routine, hair routine and re-ingrained a love for reading and artwork. I removed toxic habits, friends that added nothing to my life and social scenes that simply just were not for me. In other words, I completely revitalized my life to include only positivity, only beneficial activities and wholly removed toxicity; something I could only have dreamed of prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. What it took was a deep understanding of whom I was and what my identity is and how who I am has led me to be what I am to this day. Your identity is unique and special to you, but even more so, it is how other people have socialized you since your birth. Understanding that and understanding that what you do and what you commit to makes up who you are and how you feel, I was able to completely alter my perspective of the world and the energy I bring to it. 

This understanding would not have come without my commitment daily to yoga and meditation. It was that commitment to dedicating time in my day to establishing quiet and peace in my mind that allowed me the space to think about who I was and what I was doing for the first time in my life. It was that connection between breath, body and mind that brought my physical body into a real perspective for the first time. And it was meditation that brought clarity to the destructive nature of my mindset and habits and awareness to the inner desire I had to be a good, helpful and constantly progressing person. 

It was working out consistently and with the intent of growth and the knowledge to do so that relieved me from this deep insecurity I have always had with my body and how it related to who I was. It was through a commitment to a process that I had to have complete faith in as I suffered through it that provided me with the notion that growth must come from pain. Growth and success are built through perseverance and struggle; it is literally each uncomfortable and abnormally strenuous exercise that burned the best and proved the most rewards. Even more so, I finally saw myself as not perfect but improving each and every week. This mindset has done so much for me in so many different aspects; it has honestly been revolutionary. 

Lastly, my re-finding of my love for literature and artwork struck a deep artistic and spiritual chord within me that I lost to shows and social media for years before. Instead of mindlessly watching a Netflix show, scrolling endlessly through Instagram and comparing myself to guys I will literally never become, I have once again found pleasure in immersing myself in a good book and spiritually growing each time. Each page that I read I feel satisfaction in knowing I have learned a lesson and an appreciation for life that that author wanted to teach me; each page I read feels like yet another advancement in my life. Every drawing I complete, and each line that’s drawn better, I feel as if I have added to this world. I feel as if I have accomplished painting my own perspective, my own identity, onto paper and into real life. Each artwork reaffirms my existence, glorifies my identity and makes that day worth living. In seeing the results of trusting the process of self-care, I seek to improve in even more ways and dedicate even more of myself, energy and time into bettering myself and this earth. I can only hope that whoever you are, you too seek to commit your well-deserved time to yourself and for yourself.

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