Safety First

By Brianna Willis, Assistant Features Editor 

Recently, I have had a series of experiences that have left me feeling incredibly uncomfortable on campus. From hate groups to walking alone at night from Faculty Hall to Springer Residential College, my safety has been on the forefront of my mind a lot the past few weeks. Even engaging online with people I consider friends has been difficult for me lately.

I want to respect people’s opinions. However, at what point can I keep allowing people to say things to me that directly threaten my existence. Is that an opinion then? Rather, a clear erasure of my existence by actively choosing to deny me or diminish my experience as a woman and a person of color.

In a time of exams, presidential elections and general life happenings, this concern about my safety has added to my stress. I know I am not alone in this feeling, last weekend commiserating the current state of affairs with friends over a beverage in the back of a restaurant, was eye opening.

How did we get here? How did we let ourselves get so stressed the only remedy is crying, or even worse letting the stress make us physically sick.

What happened to self-care? What happened to treating ourselves? Why have we let politics, racism, sexism and life break us down so far we’re struggling to get back up? Another hashtag, another catcall, another test it seems to be never ending.

It is in these times I am reminded of the importance of safe spaces and taking care of ourselves first and foremost. So here are some tips and some myths I want to address so we can all have a successful semester.

There is nothing better than having a “safe space”. Whether that’s your bathroom, a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant or even your job, having somewhere you can retreat and just be for a second. Be with yourself have friends and co-workers support you through troubling times.

There is nothing selfish about taking care of you. If you need to be alone, if you need to cancel plans, if you need to spend money, do it. Take care of yourself before you focus outwards. How can you help someone else, if you’re not fine yourself? Buy that new dress or pant suit, order that dessert and watch one more episode before you study. Whatever helps you focus and recenter, do it.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. I had a professor email me to check in, and if I had swallowed my pride and let them know in advance, who knows how much less stressed I would have been. Counseling might be a good option for those of us who suffer from depression, especially when the seasons change. Asking a boss or a coworker for help when something is too difficult can help alleviate unwanted stress.

I am thankful for my safe spaces, for my network of friends who support and understand the need for self care. Here’s to face masks and long showers this weekend.