Within the past week I set a date for my dissertation defense, finished writing the first draft of a grant to investigate queer men of color’s health outcomes, and analyzed data for various research projects for about four hours with my students. While I work a lot, I also set aside time to nurture my relationship with myself and with close and casual friends. In my 25 years of life, I have met so many people who achieve a lot in their professional lives yet do not take time to work through their internal traumas and conflicts or to practice self-compassion generally, which often shows up in how they treat others. Thus, amidst the business of my life I wanted to write this informal post to celebrate some simple pleasures I have encountered as of late.
First, this past week the weather reached mid-50 degrees for a couple of days so I basked in going on jogs and playing tennis. Part of my work occurs in academia, and oftentimes academia (or capitalism in general) encourages us to base our self-worth on always producing more papers and grants, which I find sad because I know quite a few people who have tons of papers and grants and treat other people poorly or still do not love themselves. So, I loved feeling the warm sun on my skin as I sprinted across the tennis court near my apartment. I appreciated the present moment as my muscles tightened and released, recognizing that me and my community are wonderful regardless of our external accomplishments.
I also felt so much pleasure going on jogs while listening to upbeat K-Pop. Like of course I ran a couple of miles to BlackPink’s “As If It’s Your Last” and Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor.” Though I do not enjoy Twice’s music much, I recently re-discovered their song “Likey” and you all it is a BOP. As this reviewer writes, the freewheeling verses, the ever-escalating synth line in the prechorus that explodes into bubbly perfection in the chorus, and the vocal chops in the bridge that lead into the high-energy dance break – ugh, my gay effusive heart feels so satisfied when I listen to the track. I am usually a high-energy, cheery, and outgoing person so I wonder how much I am drawn to these types of songs based on my personality or if these songs themselves help elevate my general bubbliness and positive energy. I am curious about how others feel about music influencing your personality or your personality influencing your music tastes!
I have also enjoyed food a lot over the past few weeks. I visited Denver to spend time with a good friend of mine a couple of weeks after getting my second vaccine shot and we ate a bunch of amazing Asian takeout. More recently I have found myself consuming a ton of edible cookie dough which feels superb! Instead of always trying to eat while working, I let myself sit with and savor the gooiness of the dough mixed with the rich chocolate of the cookie bites. I feel proud of myself because over a decade ago I would have really monitored my calorie intake and judged myself for gaining some weight during this pandemic. Now though, I say screw fatphobia and the male gaze. What matters is that I treat my body well
especially because there are a lot of men with conventionally attractive bodies who are boring as heck and I’m the opposite of boring but anyway that’s petty so.
Finally, I have taken lots of time to appreciate my close friendships. The other day I had a zoom date with this super hot mathematician who ended up boring the heck out of me. While he met the bare minimum of being nice, when I asked him about the unifying themes of his life as well as what he thought about his racial identity, he pretty much said “I don’t know.” After the call, I felt a surge of gratitude for my closest friends, because they are excellent communicators, into social justice, compassionate, have interesting and fulfilling hobbies, and practice self-awareness on the regular. My bff Bri once said that if I won’t ever find a male romantic partner if I expect him to be on her level. I honestly feel fine with that because of the immense happiness my relationship with myself and with my closest friends brings to my life. If a man can’t match that, why bother?
I feel glad that I have cultivated fulfillment outside of external accomplishments and heteronormative romance. I think the culture in the United States encourages us to do more and to link our identities to our jobs which I want to refute, though I know I am in a privileged place to be able to do so. How do you try to honor who you are outside of external accomplishments or societal norms? What have you drawn enjoyment from in your life during this pandemic? General reactions to this post? Until next time!