Learning to Self-Care: Without Doing It By Yourself

This year has been interesting. Last December, I remember envisioning myself going abroad, launching Sisters In Conference, teaching my own class, and applying to PhD programs (with ease). InshaAllah, I was able to live out all my visions but they didn’t come without struggle. I went to the Bahamas with my boyfriend and created some great memories! (but wasn’t able to spend the whole summer in LA with my family) With my sisters and co-founders, Margarida and Ev, we were able to launch a successful Sisters In Conference (but oh, don’t get me started on the months of preparation and stress that came with it). I had the opportunity to step into the teaching world this fall semester, and met 18 amazing students who changed my life (but OMG all the grading!) And so far I have submitted 5 PhD applications and looking to submit 5 more (but my bank account is taking the hit). There were some things I planned for and then there were some that I didn’t anticipate, like moving in with my boyfriend (and having to move to 2 different locations in the middle of a stressful semester). 2016 taught me that life is not black and white; it’s a big ocean of grey!

Among all the crazy and beautiful moments I’ve experienced this year, I have 2 highlights I’m most proud of!

  • I faced my fear: Doctors.
  • I got my life together and started investing in myself.

Essentially, I began to practice self-care.

First, let’s start off with my fear of doctors. As soon as I turned 18, I made a conscious decision to stop seeing any kind of doctor. Doctor’s offices creep me out, doctor visits give me a lot of anxiety and once I legally became “an adult” (let’s face it, there are no certified adults out here! We are all just winging it) I decided to avoid them altogether. At age 17, I stopped going to the doctor (general physician, dentist etc.) But a few days before my 23rd birthday I remember making a promise to myself, to 15725261_10210109648310281_1013872504_o.jpgself-care. So I planned a date with myself, to go shopping! But I had to take a moment to ask myself, Brenda, is going on a shopping spree really caring for yourself, honestly? The answer, sadly, was no. I decided (after many nights of crying about it) to make appointments with my doctor, dentist and gynecologist. I was not looking forward to any of these visits but I made a promise to take care of myself, so I followed through. I actually spent my 23rd birthday at the dentist’s office. But I didn’t have to do it alone. I was so grateful to have my sister, friend, and mentor Margarida by my side! She helped me face my fears and taught me that I didn’t have to do it alone.

 

It didn’t stop there, after facing my fear, I had to face reality. Since I was so brave I was going to treat myself to a shopping spree! I earned it! But that little voice inside my head grew louder, Brenda, is going on a shopping spree really caring for yourself ? I took care of my health so what was the problem now? I knew better. I love having nice things but I also hate spending my money, so whenever I went shopping I drowned in that grey ocean. How did I expect to wine & dine myself while also keeping a nice bank account? That’s the thing, I didn’t expect anything because I wasn’t keeping track or worrying about where my money was going. I decided that self-care also meant: creating a budget, becoming financially literate, starting a retirement account, and growing my savings account. Thinking about getting my finances in order in the middle of application season & my first semester of teaching, was extremely stressful. But sometimes, caring for yourself means doing the things you don’t want to do, but have to. Fortunately, I didn’t h15696873_10210109647550262_1816237260_o.jpgave to do this alone either. My boyfriend and best friend, Jovan, helped me create a budget, find a better bank for my savings account and helped me find a perfect retirement plan that would suit my needs. I also began readings books that helped me become financially savvy. When you get used to reading hundred of pages…. of theory…a day…you tend to finish other books pretty quickly. I made it a priority to create financial goals (just like I created academic goals: graduate with a B.A, go for my M.A etc.) and to continue investing in myself. As 2016 comes to an end, I am extremely proud of the woman I’m becoming and I accept all the grey areas of my life, because it reminds me that I’m growing and evolving. I also want to remind everyone, that you don’t grow in isolation, it’s a community effort, and I am so blessed to have amazing people in my life. What were your 2016 highlights? Who helped you accomplish them? Leave a comment below. 

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