QUARANTINE AND CHILL
POV: It’s day ten of quarantine, you’ve just woken up at 3 PM although you could’ve sworn it was 10 AM. Your mother is calling you from downstairs to take the fifth family walk of the day after she’s spent all morning trying the newest WhatsApp/Facebook remedy to COVID-19. (The answer is no, putting onions in the corners of your house will not ward the virus away.) Another google classroom notification pops up but you pretend not to see it - ignorance truly is bliss. It’s at this exact moment that you get the brilliant idea to try the 21 step Korean beauty routine you saw on Instagram a couple of days ago. You’ve already spent days nine and eight teaching your sister the renegade but a lack of hand-eye coordination has made those efforts fruitless. By step 10 of the beauty routine, you decide that maybe perfect skin is just not God’s plan for your life. You also conclude that your hard work garners a celebratory nap, by the time you wake up it is 6 AM the next day.
The last two weeks of my life have been this exact experience. My screen time is up 48% and my newest addiction is watching “what your face wash says about you” tik toks. (Apparently, my cleanser means that I have a large forehead but am generally charismatic and kind.) Despite this, at the end of each day, I still feel one overarching emotion - guilt. As a high school student, the past three years of my life have been a constant go, go, go. Always a new assignment or upcoming test to work towards. I’ve never felt like there was time for personal reflection or growth when I was constantly having things added to my plate. This quarantine has forced me to wonder who I am when the identity of “student” is stripped away. This has opened up a crucial conversation on self-care.
As a Gemini and staunch movie watcher, I live by two fundamental truths; one, try everything at least once and two always wear pink on Wednesdays. During a period of such immense uncertainty, I want to redefine the way I look at self-care. Removing the guilt from treating myself will hopefully set the stage for me to experience demotivation and burnout less frequently. This series will take you on my journey of self-discovery and hopefully inspire you to begin your own.
Self-care and selfishness are often used synonymously. The narrative concerning our definition of self-care must be refined. Although ordering lashes off of aliexpress may have immediate feelings of gratification, the idea that self-care is simply ordering products or paying for services has taken the conversation away from why we do self-care. The process is bigger than feeling good - it's about overcoming standards set by society and tapping into one's full potential. As a society, capitalism has sold us a vision, promising all that we could want in life is available for purchase. The sad reality is there is no market for confidence and self-empowerment. These are features that must be developed independently and then enhanced by the products and services made available to us. When we slow down and take time for ourselves rather than spending money on immediate access to dopamine, we are reminded of our self-worth. Putting #BlackGirlMagic or calling other women of colour “Nubian Queens” cannot be our only contribution to a positive lifestyle. It is a conscious effort that goes far beyond the capabilities of a hashtag.
When we combine the efforts of fun activities like “pandemic bangs” and constant self-reflection, that is when we move in the direction of self-care. Stressors must constantly be addressed. I have had experiences where I work myself to the bone, taking on extra work all because those are the traits of a “hard worker.” As I have grown older, I’ve understood the importance of working smarter, not harder. My dreams and aspirations may indeed require me to give all that I am but they should not leave me sacrificing fundamental elements of myself like my mental health and happiness. The normalization of bad sleeping habits and stress eating means we no longer recognize these as stressors. Individual growth begins and ends with how much time we are willing to spend on ourselves.
Take the time to understand what your stressors look like to successfully fight them. Tackling the things that prevent you from having good mental health may mean scheduling a day out with friends to vent or it can mean cancelling previously scheduled plans. There is no one way to take care of yourself. (Although I would still recommend you sleep on the decision to cut bangs.) Ensure you use this time to tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. Above all - stay safe and continue to prioritize your mental wellbeing.