Photo featuring a Filipinx woman by Chona Kasinger for Disabled and Here, a publisher of free stock photos featuring and celebrating disabled BIPOC in the Pacific Northwest.
By Bryan Garcia
Can you believe 2020 is halfway done? As we look back, it may be hard not to notice that a lot of well-thought-out plans and wonderful ideas have been derailed and have left many feeling a bit hopeless or anxious about what the rest of the year is going to look like. We must make note of that fact that we made it this far and consider ourselves very privileged to have been able to. If you have been feeling restless, agitated, having trouble sleeping and eating, losing weight, and increased anxiety or anger it may be that you have been experiencing “Summertime Sadness” or “August Blues”. For some of us, the pandemic has provided many of us with opportunities like more time to ourselves to do things we enjoy, reflect on life or to do nothing at all, as well as opportunities to reconnect with those we care about and help others. For others, there have been real experiences of “caution fatigue,” which is what happens when an overwhelming combination of stress, anxiety, isolation and disrupted routine makes us feel drained and less careful about social-distancing guidelines that could put us and others at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
Many of us had goals that involved creating or strengthening connections with those we care about in our lives and social distancing hasn’t made this easy. And as queer people of color, summer tends to be a time when we look forward to gathering around the pool or backyard for a cook out with our family and friends and when our melanin pops the most, so when this type of social connection is risky during the pandemic, it is even more important that we find new and effective ways to continue to flourish, thrive and connect.
Why Wait for 2021?
A lot of times when a goal we set doesn’t go as planned, we may feel like we have to wait for the start of the new year to begin again. It can be helpful to not look at these adjustments and setbacks as failures, but instead consider seeing them as a necessary and appropriate step back as we aimed to make each other’s health and safety a priority. And while we may not know what the rest of the year has in store for us, what we do know is that as QPOC, we are resilient beings and can find new ways to create lives that we love. There also isn’t anything magical about the new year that makes it the perfect time to set new intentions. So what would it look like if we used the next 4 months to recommit to ourselves with some new intentions?
It is also okay to take some time to mourn the loss of expectations for the year while looking forward to whatever is next. The great thing is that you can always recommit to yourself and make a plan that will help you navigate the remainder of 2020. What are some things you want to pursue? Perhaps revamping your dating life? Maybe you can reimagine what sexual health can look like and finally try the video chat feature on that dating app that you have been hesitant to consider? It could bring about longer and more meaningful conversations and deeper connections. This is just one of many things!
Resolutions vs Intentions
A resolution focuses on goals and the external and what could be short-lived rewards. It may seem like we are being asked to achieve a really unhealthy or unrealistic outcome. An intention invites you to do something different in that it focuses more on the journey within yourself that could help us commit to a purpose that we align with our lives.
There is a little thing known as extrinsic motivation that is when we do things due to fear of punishment, a short-lived reward, or some sort of compensation.
Intrinsic motivation on the other hand, comes from within. This is when we want to do things because we will get better at something, because it gives us purpose and has meaning, or because we want to be able to do it on our own.
It can also help to think about the environment that we are in. What would the appropriate environment for us to meet our needs look like? Are we surrounded with what we need to make our intentions feasible and accessible? Would it help you to reconsider where you live, what your living situation looks like, the people in your life, your daily practices and routines? Something as simple as rearranging your bedroom furniture or kitchen cabinets could help you create the flow needed to commit to these intentions.
Take an opportunity to spend some time with yourself or if you are able to, those in your household or loved ones over video chat/phone and reflect on and revisit these intentions or explore completely new ones that fit your needs at this time. Find out in what ways you can support one another’s new or reimagined aspirations that go beyond any limits this year had.
A quote by Dr. Kelly McGonigal that I love and have copied and taped to my wall in front of my work desk as well as on the inside of my journal that a really fabulous mentor shared with me a while back goes, “Gratitude and authentic pride, along with hope, social connection, and compassion, are the most effective emotions for promoting long-lasting behavior change. The least effective are shame, guilt, and fear.” I keep this in mind so when I am close to coming up with a resolution like “I need to lose (X amount) of pounds,” I can instead think about an intention like, “I want to practice being non-judgmental with myself and others when it comes to physical appearance.” I like the difference.
So what will it be for you? Do you feel like your idea of self care needs to reflect the challenges you are currently facing? What matters most to you and what makes you come alive? What will make you say, “I am in it for the long run?”
Overcoming Negativity Bias
We have an evolutionary negativity bias hardwired in us that a long time ago was necessary to help us survive. If you were more aware of danger and the bad things that were going on then you were more likely able to make decisions that could help you make it into the next day. The centuries of trauma that people of color ancestry carry has definitely had profound impacts on our mental health as well. This trauma can often be carried across generations.
Unfortunately, this also tends to make us give more importance to the negative experiences we have. So when we finally have a moment of great success and triumph we might immediately cross that off whatever list it was on and move on to the next task. Why not bask in that feeling and really take it in? Celebrate, journal about it at length, rejoice with a selfie, brag about it on social media, and give yourself the praise you deserve!
Let ourselves imagine the good that can come into our lives in all its possibilities and forms. What if things go really well? What if you are able to grow and have fond memories of the things you are experiencing? What if you make it out okay and things turn out better than expected?
Do You, Boo
My hope is that we can all see how we don’t have to put our life on pause and wait for a new year to be able to start anew. We can begin again now, go at a pace that is comfortable for us and be kind to ourselves as we navigate through the rest of this year.
Considering the impact that this pandemic has had on our lives and environments, what do you envision and hope the rest of the year looks like for you? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @allgoqpoc!