How would you personally define self-love?
Freddie: Self-love is being ok even in the case of your setbacks and failures you can still be a good person even when making mistakes.
Cyd: Self-love is the necessity of actively seeking out the beauty in all of your individual flaws, taking time to work on making your strengths stronger, and then actually believing your own voice when you hear it say, “I love me”.
Jose: Self-love is accepting yourself for who you are mentally and physically, and that includes your flaws. It means not trying to change or adapt to the expectations of others.
Summer: Self-love is the act of putting your physical, emotional, social and mental health as a priority. Also, just the basic care and compassion towards your body, mind and spirit.
Charles: Self-love is being content with who you are every morning. Doing things that make you happy, not just your physical well-being, but also your mental.
In what ways do your identities play into your concept of self-love?
Freddie: In the Mexican community, self-love often means your family is doing well. It's like a cultivated focus. So that can occasionally be very counterintuitive because if you're always focusing on other people, you don't have much time to develop as an individual.
Cyd: The world works very hard to convince me, as a Black woman, that I am not destined to be as beautiful or as successful as someone else. It tells me every single day that if I don’t play dumb, that if I don’t release some level of my ambition, that if I just let men take advantage of my complacency, I’ll spend my life alone. I am told daily that my body is not ideal. That if I want to be liked, I need to change the way I look and dress. Under all of that scrutiny, it is important to me to spend time with myself.
I like to reassure Cydney of her undeniable self-worth and recognize that the things that make Cydney who she is, are the reasons why she is beautiful, capable and strong.
Jose: In contrast to how many Dominicans are raised machismo pride and lack of emotion, I was raised on pride in loving myself as a man. I guess like not being afraid of showing emotion and embracing emotion in a way that allowed me to self-reflect.
Summer: Because I value my identity as a mixed, cis woman, I practice self-love in ways that are accustomed to those identities. For example, my femininity screams for different types of physical love than other genders. Also, being mixed, I know mentally what differences I have between the general populous (good and bad). I use that knowledge to constantly motivate positive thinking and good spirits wherever I go.
Charles: As a dark skinned Black man especially, I’ve come to have to learn how to love myself even when the world doesn’t. I realized that I have had to try even harder to understand my worth and to ensure to maintain it. I love the skin I’m in and I use that confidence to my ability whenever I can. I’m much quicker to accept myself for who I am, whether it be positive or negative.
Has your concept of self-love ever recognizably shifted? Explain.
Freddie: I always felt very grounded in my morals and the things that I saw as being central to my sense of self before coming to college. Then I got to UMich, and like my sense of identity changed a lot and I wasn't okay with that at first because I was like, “Oh fuck, this is what people appreciated about me before, who am I now?” Because that's not what I was doing anymore. Pretty much it took me a minute to change my mindset to recognize that even though those things are important to me, those things aren't me.
Cyd: Hell yeah! Self-love for me used to very superficial. It was not until recently I added emotional support for myself into the mix. Also recognizing that sometimes self-care is finding help when you need it and saying “no” if you cannot commit to all of the things people are expecting your commitment for. There is no inherent value in spreading yourself too thin for the sake of pleasing other people’s agendas. If the thought of being a part of something brings me dread, I decommit. And you know what? I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it.
Jose: In high school, I didn't pay that much attention to understanding self-love, but after coming to Michigan I was definitely forced to pay more attention to it. As I faced more hardships and struggles, I realized I had to be grounded in taking care of myself in order to overcome them.
Summer: My transition from high school to college changed how I envisioned self-love for myself. In high school, I loved others before myself in fear of being ridiculed (usually because of my difference in beliefs/identities). As a college student, I now know that I am what deserves love and I know how to balance caring for others and myself in HEALTHY ways!
Charles: The most it has shifted in the last couple years is my relationship with God. The closer I’ve gotten to him the more I’ve realized what love is truly, and have been able to apply to not only others but myself as well.
What do you do when you realize you haven't been “self-caring”?
Freddie: The biggest thing that has helped me is mindfulness, being aware of my own actions and how my actions are reflected onto other people. Also recognizing what habits and qualities in myself are causing me to regress to those places of not taking care of myself. This usually looks like focusing on what helped me have a better day like, “Did I drink coffee in the morning? Did I hang out with my friends and study by myself at night?” Also like learning to be ok with being comfortable with ambiguity because many things aren't in our control and accepting that helps you move forward.
Cyd: It usually takes me a minute to notice, but I’ll stop working out, stop eating, and I get moody. That’s when I realize like, “Oh…I need to spend some time for introspection.” I try to do small things every day for myself. Like my end of the day skin/body routine is my safe place. I like to go through the whole nine yards slowly with music in the background. Last night was ’90s hip hop while I did a face mask, I exfoliated to Adele and I moisturized to smooth jazz.
Coming back to that consistent routine can usually ground me after a day that felt "off" for whatever reason.
Jose: In these times, I usually try to devote my time to interesting new hobbies, as well as hanging out with friends and doing just other simple things I enjoy. These things help take my mind away from those negative things and anchors me in the positive aspects of my life.
Summer: When I realize I haven’t been “self-loving,” I like to see what event happened that may have thrown off my routine. Then after reflection, I do something that notoriously makes me feel better (hang with friends, eat pickles, with Princess Mononoke, etc.). Engaging in happy actions after reflection can soothe pent up-emotions. After, I like to plan my days out and find at least one or two things I can do that will incorporate more “self-love” in my routine!
Charles: I personally realize when I haven’t been doing my self-care routine, is when I haven’t been writing or taking enough time to do what I enjoy doing.
What's your current self- love routine?
Freddie: As I mentioned previously, it focuses on mindfulness, like really paying attention to things surrounding myself. I enjoy being around people that motivate me and give me energy. Mentoring other people also helps a lot, as making sure people are on a good path means that I have to make sure I’m taking care of myself.
Cyd: Recently I have been doing self-care in the form of taking long periods of time without speaking to anyone. I like quietly walking across campus and thinking about my day and what I need to do. Another thing that calms me down is completely decluttering my space. Every day, when my academic day is over, I get elated with the thought of coming back to my room and “putting on my cozies” haha. I end my day by cleaning (organizing) my room. I recently hung up my 2019 vision board and I will also admit that manifestation is the truth and the way. It’s as powerful as praying! I love waking up and having my goals be the first thing I see.
Jose: I definitely seek the company of friends along with talking to my parents, which replenishes my motivation to keep going so I can be able to contribute to motivate family back home. I also really like doing yoga too because it allows (me) to physically take care of myself in relaxing myself both physically and mentally.
Summer: My current self-love routine is very simple! I start my day with a nice skin and hair care routine. Then I plan out my day so that I can save any anxiety later and manage my time better. During the day, I try to find time to do stuff other than homework or work like read an article, watch a video or draw. This is a nice practice to clear your mind throughout the day. As the day ends, I try to squeeze in a workout, a shower, and then use essential oils and crystal energy to ensure a nice sound sleep to restart my routine.
Charles: For me, my self-care routine is making sure that I take the time out to write music and also eating right. I’ll make sure that I have something to eat and a smoothie especially, going to the park is something that brings me peace, too. Just being in nature helps me realize that I’m a part of something much bigger than me. Hearing the birds chirp and the sun glowing on my face always brings a smile to my face.
Get to know your lovely contributors:
Alfredo Delarosa, also known as Freddie, is a Mexican-American and a pillar within the Latinx community. Not only does he devote his time to various outreach, advocacy and activism opportunities, he is also dedicated to organizing and creating many on campus. His empathetic nature impacts nearly everyone he encounters, which is what makes him such a powerful leader. He is majoring in biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience, and fittingly minoring in community action and social change.
Cydney Gardner-Brown, largely known as CGB or Cyd, is a Black, westside Detroit native. She is studying public policy on a pre-law track hoping to play a major role in contributing to social and educational reform. This work has already begun as Cyd is currently researching literacy rates in Detroit Public Schools to bring to light inequities in resource allocation. She also hosts a brilliant podcast that explores these topics and more called “The Sit Down” (you can find it on iTunes <3).
Jose Naut is an Afro-Latino male who grew up in the Dominican Republic before living most of his teenage life in Chicago. Staying active is extremely important to him, which has incited his interest in sports, most importantly soccer. As a first-generation student, he has made the most of his time at U-M majoring in anthropology with aspiring goals to be a detective.
Summer Eubank is a Tejana-American pre-med student whose optimistic and warm energy aligns perfectly with her dream to be able to save lives. Majoring in neuroscience and minoring in sustainability, her course load is hectic, therefore she can often be found in Hatcher plowing through copious sticky-note to-do lists. Summer has also committed herself to numerous volunteer opportunities locally and even abroad, recently working in a health clinic serving an under-resourced community in the Dominican Republic.
Charles Harris Jr., a Black rapper and an arguable poet. Along with his MiC columnist contributions, he expresses himself through lyrics that embody empowerment as they fluidly carrying his reflections and experiences on soulful beats. Look up C-Note on just about every platform and show him some love. Charles studies communications and is also extremely engaged in campus as a member of many organizations within the U-M Black community.
Playlist for when you’re in your SELFluv bag:
Cranes in the Sky- Solange
YEAH RIGHT- Joji
Sunday- Earl Sweatshirt ft. Frank Ocean
Si Una Vez- Selena
Will He (Medasin Remix)- Joji
VRY BLK- Jamila Woods ft. Noname
Bubbles- Jamila Woods
Doo Wop (That Thing)- Lauryn Hill
Nothing Even Matters- Lauryn Hill ft. D'Angelo
Just a Stranger- Kali Uchis ft. Steve Lacy
For the Night- Princess Nokia
Eggs Aisle- Amindi K. Fro$t
Young Hearts- NoMBe
A Message to Women- Reyna Biddy
Nont For Sale- Sudan Archives
FIND YOUR WINGS- Tyler, The Creator
Bad Company- A$AP Rocky ft. Blocboy JB
BTSTU- Jai Paul
No Scrubs- TLC
Asia black market- Chynna
Brujas- Princess Nokia
Daylight- Matt and Kim
Summer Snow- C-Note
Summer 21- C-Note
Retrograde- James Blake
This Girl- Kungs Vs. Cookin’ on 3 Burners
Nobody – Mitski
Drink I’m Sippin On – Yaeji
i – Kendrick Lamar
All About Me – Syd
Any Willow Smith song made after 2014