By Ella Fasciano
Edited by Emma Davis
I have always loved quotes — snippets of people’s imaginations and values wrapped up in a few beautifully complex words to ponder and inspire. Since I was little I have always collected quotes to hang all over my walls, mirrors, and notebooks. One of my favorite quotes has always been “forever is composed of nows,” said by Emily Dickinson. I like that one because it is a simple quote that I can root myself in during the stressful, frantic moments of life. I always took the quote to mean that in every moment of life, I should be acting on my dreams and putting everything I can into every present second. I threw everything I have at all of the people and ideas and causes I wholeheartedly believe in. Recently, though, I read another quote that added a lot of complexity to that mindset I have had for so much of my life.
One of my college webinars welcomed a speaker named Dena Simmons, and she told us this Audre Lorde quote: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
I really liked this quote. I especially liked it because most quotes are tied up, but this one reminds you of the importance of context. Simmons said that Lorde was an academic at a university that wouldn't let her go on sick leave when she was sick, which is when she said this quote. Parts of the world were against her, and instead of letting herself be defeated, she took time for herself. That was a form of rebellion. I was someone who thought that taking time for yourself was selfish, but this quote really clicks with me. Thinking about self-care as a form of standing up for yourself and resistance feels powerful. I was only able to think this way because of the classes I took my last two semesters.
My past two semesters, I took two African history classes where I learned that there are many forms of rebellion that we are not taught. I am now seeing these forms of resistance in history and around me today in unique places. While protests, marches, petitions, and boycotts are rebellions, so are singing, having conversations, writing and speaking up (wherever your words may go), and even simply trying your best at life every day. This quote reminded me that taking care of yourself can also be a form of rebellion, especially because you take care of yourself so that you can continue fighting, and you protect yourself so that you can be your strongest for yourself and the world around you.
I was only ready to think in these new ways because of my experiences last year where I saw the physical effects stress can have on your body and mind. I think before college, I thought being stressed was just me being weak. It seems like if you try your best, you should always end up okay. I saw that when I got really stressed a little before the end of my first semester, my stress took a physical toll on my health. I couldn’t eat and I just felt nauseous all the time, but I thought that I was just being dramatic or that there was something wrong with me totally outside of my control like a virus. I was confused, but having so many supportive friends around me taught me a lot about taking care of myself. Some of what my friends taught me this past year is summed up in that Lorde quote. I am beginning to think that taking care of yourself is just a different, but important, type of resistance. A resistance that is about making sure that you are strong enough in this world to fight for what you believe in.
Now, I still try to throw my whole heart into everything I do, but I have also begun to see that taking time to be creative for myself needs to be part of that everything. I have learned that watercoloring, writing, and playing music with my family is not a reward I earn, it is, at least, what I deserve as a human being and, at most, an act of rebellion that makes me a stronger fighter and dreamer. I am excited for our future, one where we are all rebelling in our own way, and one where we are stronger when helping the world because we have grown strong by helping ourselves.