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Collage by me. Floral diptych. Better Homes magazine cut-out, clear tape. Dedicated to my friend Ola who blooms as lively as sunflower and peonies, her fave flowers.

“Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love.”

These are words I didn’t realize I needed to hear–until a woman said it to me this past weekend. Women are often held to impossible standards in their roles that overlap in the private and public spheres, and these roles demand a lot of their physical and emotional energy. More specifically, traditional gender roles relegate women to unpaid, emotional labor in taking care of the home and the family members who inhabit it.

In this day and age, on top of the aforementioned labor,  women seek paid work outside of the home in order to financially support themselves and their family. For this reason, they do not have time to care for themselves because they are so busy caring for others. And when they practice self-care, they get criticized for it, they get shit for being “selfish.” Across various cultures, women are expected to meet gendered standards that disadvantages them to men, and thus they often feel disrespected and hurt.

This hits me personally because I often talk down to myself very negatively in order to prove myself wrong. There’s something a little twisted about hurting myself so that I can feel better about myself. As a full-time student, a daughter of immigrants, and committed student group member in different spaces, I carry a lot of responsibilities that I feel willing and determined to fulfill.

However, being all three is exhausting.

I’ve been trying to find a balance among all these activities because I care about them and the people involved in it very much. Within all the chaos in my last three weeks of undergrad, I’ve also started asking myself, “Who am I doing this for?”

I do it for my mother who tirelessly puts her family, her students, and her parents before herself; I do it for the people in Japan whose demands for the right to live and the right to sovereignty are ignored by the central government; I do it for my friends from various backgrounds who feel unsafe and underrepresented by the larger system; I do it for the people who believe in shifting our society from an individualistic, capitalist society to a communal, egalitarian society.

Let’s be real, living independently can only go so far as a human being. Yes, having alone time is great for introspection. But my point is that despite the emotional roller coaster and responsibilities/obligations that burned me out many times during the past several weeks, my fire (well being) remains ignited. Why?

Because my family and friends–at UCSB and in different parts of the world–support me when I feel so lost and disconnected with myself, renew my sense of purpose behind the things I care about, and fuel me with so much love that I cannot contain it all.

Love is revolutionary; I truly do believe that the power of love serves as the driving force for those bigger changes in our broken society.

But the revolution of love begins with loving myself.


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