The best piece of advice which I have ever received is that self-love is a journey. This makes it a lot easier when you’re having a bad day and all you want to do is watch a terrible Netflix rom-com and lie in bed with a McDelivery. It’s a work in progress. Every day I wake up and try and channel my sister’s advice, “Be more like Lizzo”. This year I aim to not worry so much about the things that really do not matter. Instead, I want to focus on the things that I love and where I want to be as my final year of university comes to an end. A lot will happen in 2020 whether I like it or not. I will finish university and I will turn 21. These are two huge milestones for me, and they are both incredibly daunting. However, there is so much that will happen in-between and I’m determined to stay sane in the process of writing my dissertation, sending out applications and playing an adult. I do not proclaim to be an expert on the subject of self-care; therefore, I wanted to focus on my own experiences in the hope that by talking openly someone may find it helpful.
I try to surround myself with people who make me feel better, both online and offline. I specifically follow women on social media who inspire me. Some of my current favourites are @chessiekingg, @eugeniedbart and @nerdabouttown. I love seeing women embracing their beautiful belly rolls, acne and stretch marks. I think it’s amazing that they take pride in who they are. I wish when I was younger that I had known about more women like them so that I did not waste so much of my time worrying about having bad skin or being supposedly ‘too tall’. Now I make sure to surround myself with people who make me feel good and I hope that they too feel the same. I love being surrounded by people who don’t care about what other people think of them. Being weird and being yourself is so much more fun.
I’m learning to love solitude. This is something I am getting much better at. It is in these moments when I am on my own that I get the most done. These are the moments when I am looking at graduate schemes, working on my blog or working on my dissertation screenplay. I’ve learnt that I need that time to just do what I want to do. Sometimes it’s easier to constantly be surrounded by others to mute everything that you should be doing. I think it’s important to do a bit of both. For me, I’ll go sit in a coffee shop and read an award-winning screenplay or I’ll just sit on my bed and make a list of all the blog post ideas I would love to write this year. It makes me feel so much better because I’m prioritising myself.
Forcing myself to take a break. This is something I am still working on. I am one of those people who could get up at 7am and sit at a desk all day and work on one paragraph of a 3000-word essay. It is counterproductive, but I struggle to pull myself away from the desk. I will sit staring at my laptop trying to find a synonym for the word ”explore” or re-reading my thesis statement aloud to anyone who can hear just so I can check it sounds grammatically correct. If I just take a 20-minute break I will come back and feel so much better about it. It’s just prising my hands off the desk and forcing myself to get up and do something else. I have learnt many times that I will burn out if I keep going at something and never take a break. On the topic of work, I will get it done. Even if I have to stay up the night before the deadline, it will get finished. This year I have thousands of words that are yet to be written, edited and submitted. Going into things knowing that they will get done just takes the pressure off.
Turning to my favourite things when I don’t feel 110%. I have watched Gemma Collin’s Celebrity Big Brother best bits so many times after a difficult day I could quote it off by heart. It’s one of the many things that always make smile. I’ll turn to Gavin and Stacey, We Bought a Zoo or any show with Miriam Margolyes in when I need a pick-me-up. However, the only book I read when I need a boost is Jen Sincero’s You’re a Badass. This is the best book I’ve ever read and one of the few books I’ve read numerous times. It was a complete game changer for me. I might be an English Literature student, although I would rather read a screenplay than a book. Yet, this is one of my few exceptions. It was the first self-help book I ever read and it remains my favourite. I wanted something accessible and non-preachy. I wanted to work on me for a bit and this book delivered and continues to do so.
Giving myself something to look forward to. As an English Literature and Creative Writing student nearly everything I produce at university is essay or coursework based. Consequently, I will go home over the Christmas and Easter break and have thousands of words to write or something creative to produce. This Christmas break I had to produce a four-minute documentary film, a 2750-word essay, a 2000-word essay and a 500-word log all due around the 9th January. In order to stay sane, I had to give myself something to look forward in order to make it all feel worthwhile in the moments when I could not think of another word for ‘thus’. So, I promised myself a brunch and a new bag and I can now say it was all worthwhile.
Every day I try and work on self-care. Even writing my blog for me is a form of that. I wanted to write for years but never had the courage to do so until last year. I realised that at this age having an interest or passion is something to be proud of. If someone wants to mock or make fun that says so much more about them than it ever will about me. I’ve watched so many people over the years come out and show what they love doing. Whether it is writing plays, drawing, travelling or make-up. It all shows their self-confidence. It takes balls to put yourself out there. Therefore, this year I plan to write more openly, honestly and frequently. I also plan to avoid any spectacular breakdowns over any upcoming essays and to take time out just for me.