This is not one of those soft, coddling, “you deserve a break” articles. There is a place and time for those, and this isn’t it.
A quick Google search of “self-care” produces results that all say the same thing. Messages of “treat yo’self” and “find some chill”. Certainly, those things are necessary and should be incorporated into your regular schedule in order to keep your cup filled and stave off the ever present threat of burnout. You absolutely need to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually, but clocking out is not the only way to take care of yourself. Sometimes you need to clock back in.
Myleik Teele, founder of CurlBox and virtual mentor to all who follow her, had this to say about self-care:
Manicures, massages, facials, etc. are all short-sighted activities for short-term satisfaction. Yes, your nails will be cute and your face will be beat but what good are those things if your finances are trash, your house is a mess, and you haven’t made any moves towards your goals?
Grown ass self-care makes sure that you are actually “adulting” in a way that will be good for you in the long run. That means doing things you may not feel like doing. That means getting out of your comfort zone. That means acknowledging that maybe you’re lazy, maybe you’re making excuses, and instead forcing yourself to do something to help you get that thing you swear you want. That means betting on yourself, investing in yourself, and making moves that will help you live the life you say you want to live.
TO BE CLEAR: this is not to deny or downplay the systemic oppression that Black womxn face that exhaust us, taking up our time and energy and leaving none for our own pleasure and personal pursuits. This is about the things you do to hold yourself back when you KNOW you know better and have the capacity to DO better.
How can you get started making the change so that you can get what you desire and deserve?Put the bubble bath and body scrub down. Pick up a pen and a notebook. Get clear about what NEEDS to happen in your life FOR YOU. What do you want? What do you need? What do you keep talking about but never making moves on?
Write down the first steps you need to take to get that goal done. Then write down the next step. Keep going until you have a handful of small action items that build up to whatever greater thing you are working towards. Give due dates to these action steps and commit to them.
THEN. GET. STARTED. Keep the commitment to yourself, no matter what. Make it your obligation to do what you need to do for you. Say no to the things that aren’t helping you get to your goal if you know you have shit to do. FORCE YOURSELF to get up, to stay up, to take care of your business. Change your schedule if you need to. Maximize your time. Figure out what you don’t have or don’t know. Do your research. Ask for help. Work for yourself just as much as you work for other people.
No need to run yourself ragged, that’s not good for anybody. You always deserve rest and kindness, so do not beat yourself up about this. But you know what else isn’t good for anybody? You doing nothing. You complaining about what you don’t have when you haven’t tried everything you can to get it. You chilling when you need to be working. As Myleik said, it’s not always going to be fun. It’s going to feel like a sacrifice. It’s going to feel like discipline.
Expect to be uncomfortable. Expect to be tired, frustrated, and unsure. Expect lessons. Expect success. Expect miracles.
Figure out how you need to boss up and lean into it. Watch your life change. Then treat yourself for your hard work.
Get to it.