Before taking part in the Wellbeing + Impact Mastermind, I thought I knew what self care was.
I knew that I needed to take time for myself, and I did so – haphazardly, when I was able to, more at some times and less at others. I veered from “doing OK” to “totally overwhelmed”, with a near constant sense of low-level exhaustion.
Pretty normal, right?
But when I thought about it more deeply, I realised self-care itself was a concept I found problematic.
Self care and social justice: Mutually exclusive concepts?
As I grow more and more conscious of my privilege compared to the vast ocean of injustice in the world, I also feel profound guilt for stepping away to “take care” of myself.
After all, as a white, western, relatively well-off woman the world already “takes care” of me in infinite tiny ways.
And yet, the alternative – working myself to the bone, not allowing myself to rest, taking on more and more – feels even less healthy.
When I find myself snapping at my family, neglecting my friendships, and knowing that despite pushing myself I’m not doing my best work, I sense myself giving into an even more inhumane way of being.
One which asks me repeatedly to sacrifice my own wellbeing, and my ability to be present and available for the people around me, in order to achieve goals I never seem to reach.
A world in which I am never enough, have never done enough, and in which I do not deserve to rest and replenish myself.
Something I want to challenge deeply, for myself and all the other women working for change alongside me.
Exploring the deeper structures beneath my personal challenge
When Mary Ann asked me to write about my experience of the Jijaze Mastermind, it was this feeling I recalled.
Of struggling with self care and not knowing why; of the challenge that comes with prioritizing time for myself whilst simultaneously becoming more aware of the injustice in the world and my desire to overcome it.
What the Mastermind gave me was a structure within which to explore this conundrum; to explore it, in a supportive group and to begin to understand the structures underlying my personal experience.
It allowed me to consider my own need for self-care and my desire for social justice and to see how they could compliment each other, instead of feeling as though one needed to detract from the other.
I was able to start to tease apart the strands which were unique to my own context and personality, and those which were part of the wider culture.
Within a safe space of our group we did the work of reflecting, and in my 1:1 calls with Mary Ann I was able to unravel some long held beliefs that continue to challenge me.
How the Wellbeing + Impact Mastermind affected my work
The Mastermind hasn’t given me more time, but I have never felt clearer about how it is I choose to spend it.
And as we come to the end I am astonished to notice how much has changed, on an inner and outer level in my life. Since undertaking this work I have made clearer and more confident decisions about my boundaries and my needs than ever before.
I know what I am here to do and I am excited to explore it in a way which also nourishes and supports me.
I don’t feel guilty about taking care of my own wellbeing, because I understand how it relates to the impact I can have on the world.
And I know that the change I am a part of will be stronger, more sustainable and more powerful as a result.