Feminist Self-care: Revisited // Sarah Conlin, M.S.
While considering a topic for this post, self-care crossed my mind many times. Each time, I decided to try to think of something else. Self-care is a topic I have read and talked about often, and I was unsure whether I had anything new to add to the conversation. In the end, I returned to self-care because although it is widely covered, it is something that many graduate students, myself included, continue to struggle with. It is a topic discussed often, but maybe not often enough.
My self-care struggle centers on what seems like a common concern for feminist students – learning when to say “no”. Again, although this topic isn’t a new one, I think it is one worth revisiting. For students interested in social justice, there seems to be an endless amount of possible opportunities, each one exciting in a different way. In the past, each time I was asked to join an initiative, take on a new role, or participate in an extra-curricular activity focused on feminism or social justice, I would say yes immediately. Saying yes was my first instinct because I was eager for the chance to become involved with something geared toward topics I am passionate about. Needless to say, this strategy was not maintainable. And, even after realizing that I had taken on too much, I often found myself continuing to say yes to new opportunities.
Now, I try to never give an answer immediately. Instead, I try to take time– following the chart above, to slow down - to consider whether the opportunity is something I would be able to give enough attention to, whether I would be part of a team with others supporting the effort, whether it’s something I could say no to for now but participate in later on, and so on. I repeat these questions to myself often when considering each new opportunity. In this way, my conclusion about self-care parallels my writing process in highlighting the importance of repetition. I have found that the more I keep self-care in the center of my attention, and reflect on past experiences, the more I learn when to say “no”.
Written by: Sarah Conlin, M.S.