Growing up, love was only described as something you would experience with other people like family, friends, and romantic partners. How do you describe the love you give to yourself? Creativity is how I fulfill my self-love. It keeps me active and alive, and I’m able to express myself with various forms of art through storytelling or calligraphy for instance. Writing, in particular, is not therapeutic, but it is essential to the structure of my everyday life. Without it, everything may start crumbling around me.
Back in November, I took a 4-day solo trip to New York that not only allowed me to experience new things but it helped me shift priorities back to myself. At the time, I also really wanted to write about a travel experience, and capture every moment in words. Each night on the trip, I had a large blue notebook, and I debriefed about each day, the people I met, the pros and cons of an event, and everything in between. When I was on the trip, I smiled every second. Even an Uber driver noticed it and questioned why I was so happy, and I answered, “I’m always this way.” Although I’ve struggled with happiness last year, I was telling the truth—I’m usually a very bubbly and positive person when I’m actively writing and balancing everything else. However, 2019 was a tough year because I was so consumed with stress and often fell off balance a few times. I’m so grateful for that trip, but I was not prepared for what was coming to me when I returned to Boston.
After writing my review of the trip, I had no time to write. That hurt me to my core. The pain was much worse because my full-time job is to celebrate and advocate for writers. It was hard sometimes to organize writing events that I wouldn’t be able to participate as a writer myself. Although I haven’t had the best relationship with writing, I want others to have a great one. I’ve always been that way. When I graduated from college four years ago, I had no idea what my next steps were for my writing. Now that I know those resources, I want other people to have them so they don’t feel lost as I did. This is just one example of how I’ve given love and care for other people, and not to myself without realizing it. It’s complicated.
By the end of December during my holiday break, I was broken. Not only was I trying to recover from work-life stress, I was also stressed at home. The holiday season is the least favorite time of the year for me, and it always has been. The best part of it is gift shopping surprisingly because I put a lot of effort into creating or purchasing a significant thing for members of my family. Books and self-care items were my gifts of choice because I wanted my family to have a sense of peace, fun, and information to start the new year. That part of it helped because while I was at a bookstore looking for gifts, I came across two books— Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann, and The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How To Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World by Haemin Sunim. I bought those books for myself and started reading around New Year’s Eve.
I completed both books within two weeks, and it made life a lot less heavy. One piece of advice that sticks with me in McCann’s book is “learn how to like writing again,” as he talked about taking a break. For most bloggers, we don’t know what breaks are, but for a writer to say it’s okay was important for me. I also received advice and encouragement from co-workers and members of the Boston Writers of Color Group about finding the time to write and strategies that have helped them. I’m truly grateful for those individuals because many of those strategies included reading, and I see the change it has done in the last few weeks. I’ve been reading a lot more to bring back my creativity in writing—which is long overdue because, with over 100+ books in my library, this is the first time in three years that I’ve read more than one book in a year. With the pace I’m on now, my goal might hit 15 books this year, which I’ve been documenting on my GoodReads profile. Reading has been my first step to get back to the bubbly and positive person that I miss, and I don’t want to lose that part of me again.
Self-love is hard, but it’s necessary. When I noticed that something wasn’t working for me, I had to make changes in order for me to stay healthy. Prioritizing mental health is an everyday thing, and I can’t wait until it gets worse to start focusing on it. In these last two months, I see how important writing really is for me, so it’s a top priority. Even if it’s ten minutes a day, and I have to write to keep myself motivated and content for the day. Without writing, a large puzzle piece is missing from my life.
Historically, February is when I dig out of the hole of depression and build goals for the rest of the year. More education, more opportunities, and more time for writing like today. Work is much less stressful, family and friendships are improving, but the journey is not over. I’m just happy to be alive. That’s all. Happy to be alive and see the blessings that appear now and ahead of time.