Internal Beautification Over Institutional Gratification
My whole life I have been working hard, and “catching up”. Whether “catching up” meant making up lost time I spent in a low- income prison excuse of a high school, or fighting to stay in college as a working class, first generation woman of color.
Everyone always told me to “work hard” and “never give up” because I had strength and ambition. Nobody ever told me to stop, and be still because I also have weaknesses and I’m human. Nobody ever told me if I did absolutely nothing for ten minutes—the world would be okay. People have told me to take breaks and relax, but watching a movie, eating, and hanging out with friends are nothing like consciously sitting still and doing nothing. Actively sitting with the discomfort of not being able to control everything I want to, confronting my discontent in having to deal with shit I never asked for, and letting other people down to make myself happier, are the only things that have helped me survive the new year. I’ve recently found this kind of stillness and inner peace with all my life style changes and I have come to terms enough with myself to realize what I need to do next.
For the rest of the year I’m going to be really selfish and make it all about me. I’m quitting all my involvements, quitting my meetings, and quitting my positions. This is something I tried to do earlier in the year but I was never at peace with myself enough to do it. They’re looking at me with admiration for being “so involved” but not questioning why I desperately want to distract myself, and complimenting me on all my tattoos and piercings without asking why I wanted to decolonize my body in the first place.
I’m holding positions but not finding contentment,
I’m going to meetings but not making real connections,
I’m worried about how many people attended an event instead of what we learned in the planning process.
I’ve wrapped myself in a bubble that only consists of UCSB, IV, and student organizing. I’m missing art, poetry, connection, and non- institutionalized ways of expressing my concerns. I don’t know anything about Santa Barbara because I’ve limited my experiences to two square miles of “college kids” who are among the 1% of people in the world that actually go to college.
My point is that it is a big fucking world and while I consider myself experienced I haven’t seen any of it. It is possible for someone who has traveled abroad or vacationed many places in the passed to still be in the same place as me, because I’m talking about more than just traveling or seeing more of the world in a tangibly measurable way.
I’m talking about meeting real people who make change in our communities without a college degree,
I’m talking about growing my own food instead of going to the store,
I’m talking about making real, meaningful connections with people instead of knowing their org, year, and major through a ten minute ice breaker,
I’m talking about my body feeling good and close to nature instead of in a desk chair, stiff with stress,
I’m talking about actually feeling like I made something beautiful
Sometimes I sit back in my chair and think to myself “What the fuck am I doing?”
A lot of people don’t understand why I would want to do THIS when “ I’ve worked so hard”…
This is not me being a “quitter” or me “giving up”.
This is being honest and real enough with myself to admit I am not the person I want to be, right now.
This is openly acknowledging the systematic and internal problems with depression, anxiety, addiction, sexual assault, and self-doubt that I have dealt with the past year.
This is me not giving a fuck who knows about everything I’ve tried to hide and “be strong” about.
This is not taking the responsibility of explaining myself to people.
This is me taking the breath you’ve always wanted to take, but have never given yourself a break to do.
This is me being happy and okay enough to look at myself in the mirror without having to convince myself I’m not lying to EVERYONE when I say I’m happy doing what I’m doing.
THIS is me making the conscious decision to surround myself with beauty and love instead of bureaucrats & rules.
I’m not completely done organizing, I’m just done doing it with the system, & I’m done doing it for institutional gratification.
I’ve tried to reach out to people, and my family has been amazing but a lot of folks who’s I’ve met at UCSB definitely did not meet my idea of “solidarity”.
I’m surrounded everyday by people who measure their success with numerical measurements of what the system has told us we should care about instead of happiness and well being. I’m surrounded by over-worked, stressed-out, harmfully-busy souls who always talk about putting themselves first and never do.
I’m surrounded by people who look me in the eye and tell my they’ll be there for me but the only texts I get are about a proxy for the meeting I’m going to miss or a doodle response I forgot to complete.
This is me taking my wellness into my own hands and not expecting others to always be there for me. It’s not an entirely bad thing—no one will ALWAYS be there for me in the ways that I would need them to, so creating my own ways of being there for myself is one of the most valuable things I can do with my time, and that is exactly what I’m doing.
So please do not invite or expect me at any more meetings and know that if you EVER feel the same way—I’m here.
Most of my time will be spent around the beach, the mountains or the meditation corner on my balcony doing yoga, painting political art about drugs and inequality, poetry and spoken word, connecting with people who are on the same journey to internal beautification rather than institutional gratification, and simply taking really good care of myself. Hit me up.