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a southern yankee abroad

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6 Ways to Show a Little Self-Love

Happy Valentine’s Day / Single’s Awareness Day, blog readers! Today is all about love, although I woke up on this cold, icy NYC morning feeling like death (or at least like I had the flu). Somehow, I managed to make it to class on time despite hitting the snooze button for an hour straight (very unlike me, as I am typically an unapologetic morning person). As the day progressed, I really didn’t think about the fact it was Valentine’s Day at all (despite the fact my sweet mom sent me roses and chocolates yesterday…thanks Mom!) img_2252

However, after I got home and curled up under my electric blanket with a mug of tea, I found myself realizing that it was, in fact, almost the end of Valentine’s Day 2017. So I decided to recognize the holiday with a little reflection on self-love.

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Shout out to my besties…y’all know who y’all are! ❤

Last year was the best year of my life in so many ways, but I feel like it was perhaps only setting me up for the year that is ahead. I am so excited to the point I am almost restless for the next few months. Below I’ve made a “list of love” to share the ways I’ve practiced self-love so far in 2017. It doesn’t matter if you’re coupled or single as a pringle—today is also a day to realize you need to love yourself before you can truly love anyone else.

1- Travel! I feel so, so lucky (more so each day) that I am able to continue my traveling this year. I’ve realized over the adventures of the last few years that travel is my first love. I feel fully alive when I am somewhere I’ve never been before. I started off 2017 with a trip home to the South (which honestly feels like visiting another country sometimes) before spending 10 days in Costa Rica. Next month, I am traveling to Israel with a group from NYU Law. We had our first meeting together last night, and I can’t wait to explore with this group next month!

Then, I will be spending 10 weeks in Uganda over the summer as a human rights fellow through law school. And, I may be doing a 10 day safari in Botswana before I start! I feel so grateful to be able to continue doing what I love in the context of my career, education, and research interests.

It’s good to have a taste for traveling alone.

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A shot from last month in beautiful Mexico City. I can’t wait to be on the road again!

2- Getting off Facebook. I made the split-second decision to deactivate my Facebook account a few weeks ago. As I sat scrolling through my Newsfeed full of political posts, I realized that I missed having control of how I received information. And as much as we try to fight it, I feel like Facebook use is correlated with desensitization, as we tend to lose sight of the fact we are interacting with people, and not a computer screen, as we type out messages and send “likes” across the void. While I feel a deep despair at the state of the nation and world right now, I realized participating in the Facebook feeding frenzy was counter-productive for me. Instead of being on full emotional blast in reaction to what’s going on, I need to sustain a slow burn for the next few years. So, I deactivated Facebook for the first time since I got it 10 years ago. For the last decade, I could never have imagined life without this service that allows me to “keep in touch” with so many people, yet I haven’t missed it once. In fact, my head feels so much clearer now. And I have had a lot more time to read and write (which is maybe a bit embarrassing to admit, as it shows how much time I was really wasting on Facebook!)

3- DailyOm. DailyOm is a website that offers online journaling classes with a variety of focuses. Because I love writing so much (if you can’t tell already!), I decided to give their strategy of “focused journaling” a try through their course entitled “Heal Yourself With Writing.” The course centers on self-discovery and empowerment by writing and remembering the past from various perspectives. The course starts off with a Native American parable about a man who says he feels he has two wolves fighting in his heart—one vengeful and angry, and the other loving and compassionate. The man admits that the wolf who wins will be the wolf that he feeds, and he chooses which one is fed.

I’ve found the approach to remembering, refocusing, and writing to be transformational, and I am just a few weeks in. Whether it’s writing, meditation, or another mechanism, I would encourage everyone to take some time for self-reflection now—especially as the world seems to spiral into chaos around us.

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The new website I have replaced Facebook with!

4- A fresh approach to law school. The first semester of law school really was a blur to me. I hate to admit this, but I feel like I just showed up and went along for the ride when I returned from traveling back in August. I don’t think I got enough out of this education I am investing so dearly in last semester. This semester, I feel not only more focused, but more knowledgeable about what I need to do to get the most out of law school. For me, that means 1-handwriting all notes (no computer!), 2- hitting the library everyday (no more going home early, chilling, and getting distracted!), and 3- briefing all my cases (I didn’t think it was worth it last semester, but I’ve changed my mind).

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A nice snowy day recently at NYU. I feel a lot more grounded and connected to school this semester, and I am happy I get to come here everyday.

5- Be careful who you prioritize. As Maya Angelou once said, “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” The corollary, I think, would be to be sure to prioritize those people who are important to you so they never have to guess if they are priorities or options. I think this applies to all levels and forms of relationships—friends, family, and dating. For some reason, acting on this lesson of prioritization has become a “priority” for me in the last few months (for lack of a better term!). Not only am I trying to be more discerning about the level of importance I give people in my mind, schedule, and heart, but I am trying to be more intentional in staying connected in certain relationships and establishing firm boundaries in others. After all, if you don’t guard your heart, who will?

6- Take a lot of walks. Those of you who know me well know I used to be adamant about running almost everyday. These days, I like to take walks around Bushwick just about every night. I use this time to think, listen to music, and call friends. There is something about forward motion that’s freeing, no matter what speed you’re going. I surprisingly don’t miss running at all, and that’s ok–there’s a time in life for everything!  I love wandering around, both in big ways (see #1) and small ways (walking around Bushwick). And, it helps me accomplish #5 (staying in touch with friends).

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A pink Bushwick sky

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Hope you’re feeling the love, inside and out! Xoxoxo

Coming Home

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Coming home has by far been the most difficult part of my trip. I arrived back in NYC at 2am Saturday morning–my first time back in the city since April. My mom had decided to come to New York from Alabama to meet me on my return, and she treated me to 2 nights at the Waldorf Astoria. This was a great entrance back into the USA, to say the least! I am so happy that my mom came to New York to welcome me back–I was an emotional mess by 2am once I finally arrived at the Waldorf, and a mother’s hug was just what I needed. As much as I truly love New York City, I wasn’t near ready to come back.

Over the last few days, the heat in the city has been sweltering and hotter than I recall any of my previous summers here being. It’s almost like nature is  serving as a metaphor of the literal pressure cooker I feel my life is in now. Even though I am back in my city, I am still without a set plan for an apartment, and the plans I had before I left to travel have fallen through (as the best-laid plans often do). As my friend Sarah framed it, I am now wanderlusting in my own city. I appreciate this romanticized and optimistic view of my situation! Law school orientation starts August 24, so the countdown is on to find the right place and move in before the grind of “1L” starts.

Even apart from my apartment/starting law school situation, coming home is just plain hard. A friend who has traveled long-term before warned me how difficult it would be. I really am not a very emotional person, but I cried the entire plane ride back. I now find myself randomly tearing up when I think  about memories from traveling as I wander through the city, running errands and worrying about finding an apartment before school starts in less than 2 weeks. It’s so good, but so hard, to be home–so familiar but also strangely isolating.

The only thing good about being back at this point is being with my friends. I truly have the best friends in NYC anyone can ask for. So many of them have offered to let me crash with them for as long as is needed until I find an apartment, and they are all so excited to hear about my travels and the people I met over the summer. After my mom left to go home Sunday, I moved over to “the penthouse,” where 4 of my closest girlfriends in the city live. It honestly felt like coming home, as this is the same apartment/group of friends I stayed with the nights before leaving for my travels in April, and it was so good to catch up! They (along with my other amazing friends in the city) are the reasons I love New York, and they are truly my family in this city. As much as I want to go back and relive certain moments from the summer, and want to be with a particular person across the Atlantic, I am so thankful to be with those friends who are here with me now in NYC–those who have supported me on this journey, and who continue to have my back.

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My friends have been so supportive from Day 0 to Day 100+ of this journey, and I am so grateful for them! 🙂 shout out to Erica for this little care package!

It’s also great to be able to talk to family whenever I want to now, without regard to time zone differences or lack of WiFi access. I’ve enjoyed some amazing catch-up conversations in the last few days with my cousin Valerie and my dad, who both remarked how great it was to be able to communicate more frequently again (which I definitely agreed with in both cases!). Even though I still live far away from family in NYC, I am still closer now than I have been the last few months, and it’s good to be back in touch.

So, life goes on. In the next few weeks I need to 1) find an apartment, 2) buy my books for law school, and 3) start law school. While I feel a sense of sadness, I remain so grateful I had this opportunity to travel for so long and to so many places. I am not sure when this sadness/period of readjustment will end, but I do know I have plenty to distract me and keep me busy over the coming weeks–living in NYC is all about staying busy, after all. 🙂

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A nice subway advert to remind me what it’s all about…!

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