Self-care packages sold by famous beauty companies, quotes about self-care, ads with statements like ‘take care of yourself: you deserve it.’, and the list goes on and on. Here is the thing: I had no problems with self-care until I realized that I do not even love self-care. I am in love with the idea of self-care because of how the world became obsessed with it. It became a trend rather than a recovery method that humans need to be able to reach the highest version of themselves.
It all started when my first semester at AUC began and it was fully online, so you can imagine the hell I was going through. I drowned in waves of stress, anxiety and depression. I showered every day, but I did not have enough energy to do a fancy skincare routine. I tied my hair up in a pony-tail and I could not do the fancy avocado hair mask. I washed my face, but I could not use a concealer to cover my dark circles.
I couldn’t tell myself: I love you. I used to look in the mirror and say it. I just suddenly couldn’t. I used to tell myself that I deserve better. Now, I don’t. I entered a never-ending cycle of self-hate because I was not able to love myself.
The most tragic part of this is the fact that when I did seek support from family and some of my friends, their answer was that if you practice enough self-care, you are going to feel good about yourself. Their definition of self-care is taking care of your skin, hair and telling yourself that you love it because self-love is self care. But, the obsession with material self-care kills empathy.
I was standing there: a human stumbling like a wasted zombie with eyes puffy and filled with red bloody veins that looked like an abandoned forest that was once on fire. I needed to deal with my anxiety and stress. I needed to stop my panic attacks. I needed to be able to breathe again.
Telling myself that I love me is a very hard thing to do. It does not happen by simply standing before the mirror and just saying it. It does not happen by taking care of my appearance. I am not saying that these things are not important, but I am saying that there is too much depth to the idea of self-care that people are ignoring. My form of self-care was an introspection about who I am. I started practicing a deep level of self-care that made me hate myself less.
I asked myself: ‘what do I want today?’ This one question changed my life. I woke up with simple goals like ‘getting through the lectures’ or ‘practicing breathing techniques’. They were small stuff, but they meant a lot because they actually suited me perfectly rather than other self-care ideas.
Long story short, self-care is something you get to define for yourself, it certainly shouldn’t be a trend and it most definitely shouldn’t contribute to your self-loathing rather than self-love. You are all unique individuals, explore what makes you feel cared for and refreshed and recharged.