Hello all! Wow, time sure does fly when you are
disillusioned by the state of your country after it elects a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot for president having fun. Over the past four months, I have taken leave from The Quiet Voice to apply to graduate school, conduct a senior honors thesis, maintain a full course load, work two part-time jobs, and volunteer. I missed blogging a lot, so I wanted to write this informal post about what I have been up to before I publish my annual bookish wrap-up later this week.
This semester, I focused a lot on self-care and cultivating a healthful work-life balance. Our society often glorifies being stressed and busy all the time, at the expense of everyday happiness and harmony. While a moderate amount of stress can serve as a solid source of motivation, I wanted to create a balanced lifestyle based more so on my values, especially as someone who wants to work as a therapist in the next stage of my career. So, in addition to everything on my to-do list, I almost always got seven hours of sleep, worked out every day, ate good food, and set aside time to hang out with friends. I think these practices enhanced my productivity in the long run, too, as I approached my work with renewed energy and enthusiasm after attaining adequate rest.
I also have spent a decent amount of time thinking about the concept of finding community. The election shocked me. Not in such a way that I felt surprised, though I did a little, but more so as if I received a physical shock, that feeling of fear that electrifies your bones and simmers, when you realize that 62 million people voted against minorities’ right to exist in this country. Of course my mind jumped to solutions – donate! have conversations about racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. at an earlier age! – but, especially for those who feel most threatened by an impending Trump presidency, it is imperative to find people who care about you and express that care, before attempting anything else.
I remember reading books with gay characters in high school, how those stories (What They Always Tell Us, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, just to name a few) helped me accept my homosexuality. And throughout college, I have had the privilege to find friends who also care about mental health, Asian American identity, writing, and other topics I hold dear to my heart. Not to mention how grateful I am to have this blog and all of the amazing connections I have made through it, the bonds and memories that keep me coming back after seven years and counting.
My main point: take care of yourself, and spend time with people who uplift you. Though 2016 showed the darkest side of our country, I believe that we can create real change if we bond over and act based on our shared values of compassion, empathy, and social justice. And when things get rough over the upcoming years, I hope that, especially for my friends of color and my queer friends, you can find a community that supports you, whether that community comes from books, blogs, your friends in real life, or elsewhere.
I was once in a very rough, dark place. I fought for and achieved healing with the support of cherished mentors, books, and friends (including folk from my online community). Though our country – and several individuals within our country – may never get to a place of full equity or recovery, that is no point to stop trying, as we can still cultivate at least a little more justice, and a little more peace, for everyone.
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? How have you been coping with (or dare I say it, celebrating) the election? Has anyone else applied to grad school/internships for the upcoming year? Hope you are all doing well and look forward to another post this Saturday, the 31st!