An illustration of a disheveled room and a woman in her pajamas pouring noodles into a bowl.
Illustration: Yaoyao Ma Van As Art 

I’ve been having these types of conversations with people for months now. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic, maybe it’s because mainstream media has glamorized the term self-care, which now seems to have become a buzzword rather than a wellness principle. Today I stumbled across not only the below passage written by Brianna Wiest, but I also found Brianna Wiest. Her words seemed to jump off the screen and right into my heart. Anyone who speaks to me like that, I support through and through and I of course did what every raving fan does – buy all their things. Books, in her case. I can’t wait to receive them. Until I do, I wanted to share with you what she wrote about self-care being unbeautiful. She wrote this last year, and I found the timing of it finding me impeccably. Enjoy xoxo.

“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution. It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day. A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure. True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do. It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t. It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening. If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness. It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor and procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself… and maybe finding that taking care lovingly attends to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place. It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people. It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.”

-Brianna Wiest

As a sidenote – as luck would have it, I created a planner cover a few years back when my mom was still alive. The photo is of her in her wheelchair at the kitchen table helping me bake for the upcoming Christmas that we unfortunately didn’t get to spend with her because she passed 2 days before. On the picture, as a legacy to her life, I had the words “Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.” Absolutely everything is a synchronicity. Nothing finds you too soon or too late, but at exactly the right moments.

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