As I reflect on this month of self-care, I can’t help but think that the first quarter of the year was ultimately preparing me for this month. That’s not something I did on purpose, but I am delighted by the realization as I reflect on this year so far.
I say this because it seems to me that setting goals, investing in our relationships – however brief we think the relationship might be, and viewing people through an intersectional lens are some of the greatest acts of self-care we can perform.
My work in higher education is generally a quiet influencer in my writing, rather than being at the forefront. But I recently started a new position at my university. It’s a position that I love! I love giving direct service to students, educating them on the ins and outs of higher education, and building relationships with them. I won’t lie, the money is also quite good and (I think) reflects the amount of emotional work that goes into the types of intense interactions my colleagues and I typically have with students. It is this work with students that has led me to this realization.
It is the time of year when people are feeling extremely stressed out. It’s the end of the semester, they’re trying to decide if they have enough financial aid to justify taking summer classes, and the realization that ignoring that unpaid balance has some consequences is coming to a head. These moments can lead to some dropped balls and anger. That anger is often taken out on those of us at the front lines, and it can make things a lot more difficult for everyone.
As I strive to serve, my own frail humanity is often thrown into the spotlight, and I can’t help but think that if those I was helping had planned ahead a little and set some SMART goals to ease their way forward (or back into) school it would be easier.
Within my own failings, and there are many, working to build a relationship based on respect (because I know, by and large, that I will be interacting with this person again) that views them as an entire person will reap rewards and will ultimately make things better for both of us.
What are some small steps you might take to help yourself be sustainable over the long term?