by Alex Martin, World YWCA Intern
It’s Monday, August came to end with the quickness of a four-day-weekend and the urgency of the months to-do-list bites like the cold air you forgot. It’s September again, but I’ve always liked the autumn. It feels less obligatory then the rest. There is newness with the return of the chilly air. Maybe, I feel this way because I’ve spent 16 of my 21 years in schools. September had meant introducing a new invention of myself that I had cultivated over summer to be displayed on the first days of school. In eighth grade, this meant a bob haircut equipped with full on bangs, a neon green top and denim skirt; truly cringe worthy.
Regardless of the well-documented fashion and hair mistakes, autumn has been a time I’ve dedicated to myself. In the past, I have given myself permission to be “self-indulgent”. It is not just an autumn phenomena but it’s most present when the leaves begin to change sometimes because it had to be and other times because I wanted it.
“Self-Care” is endlessly important. It’s a simple sentiment that the explosive rise of the wellness community continues to push but it’s not always easy. Throughout my few years as an “adult” female person, I have witness plenty of women feeling invalidated in the “selfish” act of taking care of themselves. I have seen numerous college females forgetting they need to take care of themselves (myself included).
Taking care of our selves is easy to forget with school, internships, friends, boyfriends, vices, and heartbreak and party mistakes not to mention societal pressure. If you’re anything like myself and you battle with OCD or other mental health issues, you understand the constant tug-of-war between self-care and self-torment. I find self-care to be crucial to maintaining any relative balance between my anxieties and my health but I’m still a beginner at achieving said “balance”. Some weeks, I eat nothing but Spicy Cheetos and beef jerky while other weeks I consider becoming a crystal person.
A couple things have sparked my reflective attitude towards autumn and interest in self-care now more then ever. To start with, I moved to Switzerland four weeks ago. There is something beautiful about travel that makes you look inside yourself in a way everyday life does not but there is something about travel that kicks my anxiety into over drive. I’ve boiled it down to a lack of control but regardless of my anxieties roots it was something I’d have to fully deal with while abroad.
The European culture has been notably beneficial for my over active mind and misplaced sense of urgency about literally everything. But I’ve sought refuge and inspiration in two media outlets because I’m a 20-something who consumes social media more regularly then I consume meals.
Like most people my age, I have taken an interest in wellness. I have read repeatedly that eating right, working out and meditating are good for the mind as well as your body but I’ve been skeptical. I don’t know if it’s the European air or the fact I can’t run to the bus without losing breath but I’m starting to buy it. Watch British Vogues series, “What on Earth is Wellness” whether you’re a skeptical beginner still trying to kick bad habits or a self proclaim expert. I promise you’ll learn something from it. Let Camille Rowe take you along on her wellness journey and discover the notion that wellness doesn’t have to be a selfish act.
Summer 2016 hasn’t been all Instagram worthy photos. It has been a media circuit of devastating news and nasty politics. On the plane in late August, I was reading the month’s Lenny Letter, which I often find myself reading when I’m desperate for advice, and I came across this Audre Lorde quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare”. How can we expect to be fully there for others if we can’t be fully there for ourselves? So this September, I am asking you to listen to Lena Dunham and Lorde. I am asking you to be political. I give you permission to read the book sitting on the shelf your that you never get to, take the dance class, meditate with your morning coffee, buy the red lipstick, or whatever makes you feel like you can kick butt.