Holiday reflections on “self” and self-care

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As I prepare to embark on a much looked-forward to break, I wanted to share some reflections from another blog of mine:

…I attended a presentation on campus for a candidate interview. At the conclusion of the presentation, the candidate asked the attendees to share one thing they were going to do between now and inauguration day to practice self-care. Almost everyone in the room shared something about looking forward to being with family. Given the rather uncertain present and the constant immersion into justice and works of equity, the people, I think, were stretched thin. They were tired.

As I listened to each person speak, I thought of how little we actually know of each other. How we wear the mask and hide our eyes for safety’s sake, in order to survive. The vulnerabilities that we allow to be seen are only the tip of the iceberg. But with those who know us best, the masks fall off. The tiresome duties of being human can be left on the floor with dirty laundry as, in some respects, we’re allowed to be young again. Holidays are sometimes more than days off work, but days off call, to refresh our human performance. For we all perform in some way.

Everyone intrinsically desires to not have to fake it. But we are afraid, even in our desire, to be real with those who may despise our realness or wound us in their quest to know. And so we reserve our truest selves for those few. Home represents the ability to go to a place where we can be nurtured, safe, and know that we belong. We only want to be held. When not with physical arms, with space and energy.

For some, family is biological blood; for others, family represents the people to whom you belong, blood or not. Family is people who can’t get rid of you if they wanted to; family is who we always come back to; family is those who know our crazy and our calm and love us still. However, whatever, family means to us, family allows us space to be the whole people that we are, in all of our messiness.

And this is what we want, most of us. To be wholly present, in all of our messiness. But we only do this with a few. Parents, siblings, lovers, friends. These are the ones we call family. The witnesses to our need to be known and to know. To be counted. To be seen.

You are terrifying and strange and beautiful. Something not everyone knows how to love.

— Warsan Shire

So love the families you have, whoever they be, and be loved. In that, know that your definition of family is enough. You love what’s yours; others love what is theirs. And therein, let us be grateful.

I’m thankful for the people I call family, whether blood or not. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to recharge and gain a fresh perspective to bring back to work in January. I hope everyone has a wonderful winter break and if indulging in holidays is your thing, enjoy it to the max!

To 2017, whatever it may bring.

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About A. M.

Information professional focusing on academic librarianship through a critical lens. Research interests include education and multiliteracies, critical race theory, gender studies, and African American studies. I am currently employed as an academic librarian. I am also a family genealogist in the process of uncovering the people and places behind my ancestry. I enjoy digging up new facts, reading, and writing in my free time. My opinions and thoughts are my own.

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