6 Unconventional Ways to Honor Yourself

In Student Affairs, we talk a lot about how to teach students resiliency. Though we are here to support students in various capacities, we ultimately want each student leaving with a greater sense of who they are, and how they can take care of themselves as individuals. One way that we can teach our students, and ourselves, the power of resilience is by teaching them to continuously honor the person that they are becoming! Honoring ourselves is about recognizing our process, reflecting on our journey, and believing that we’re enough today!

In my own journey as a first-year Assistant Hall Director (living 7 hours for the first time from my family and closest friends), I have had to learn more than ever how to take care of myself. I’ve had to develop patience, gratefulness, and the ability to be by myself and be okay with that! I never realized how important self-reliance was until I got to Ohio State.

I was an English major in my undergraduate years, so symbols are very important to me. I believe that the small rituals we make every day (whether it’s coming in after a rough day and immediately journaling, or sending a thank you card whenever someone helps you out) really matter. These rituals, no matter how small, make our lives fun, and they also remind us of our values and dreams. So, here are some tips to honor yourself this week. Though they are a little unconventional, I hope there are some people who are willing to try out some of these. I know they’ve helped me! So, now my favorite quote:

“Courage starts with showing up and allowing ourselves to be seen” -Brene Brown

And we’re off! Here are 6 unconventional ways to honor yourself this week:

  1. Send a letter to your future self.

A month and a half ago when I still lived in New Jersey, I sent a letter to my future self. I didn’t know when it would arrive, and I didn’t even know what building I would be living in yet at Ohio State- but I sent it to campus and hoped that it would show up one day when I really needed it. It arrived on the last day of RA training and the inspirational words in there were exactly what I needed to hear before the school year started. So here’s my recommendation. Get a pretty card, write yourself a letter about what you hope to accomplish and who you hope to become by the end of the semester and seal it. Put a reminder in your phone to open up the letter at the end of the semester, and make a celebration out of it. Go to your favorite coffee shop, restaurant or park and read your letter! How have you changed? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to accomplish? How do you want to live differently next time?

  1. Prepare for the dream you want to achieve.

Olympic athletes spend a lot of time training physically…but did you know that mental preparation is a huge part of their work ethic? According to this Business Insider article, when we visualize our dreams coming true, “we stimulate the same brain regions as we do when we actually perform the action that can get us to our goal.”

A few days ago I was talking to a fellow cohort mate who said “sometimes I just sit and daydream about the outfit I’m going to wear to graduation.” We both started laughing, but then I said: “What if someone actually bought the dress they were going to wear to graduation years in advance?” It would be an act of faith, and an inspirational reminder that it’s possible!

We’ve always been told to “dress for the job we want someday” but I wonder: How can we prepare for the dreams we want to achieve in other ways? If you want to write a book someday, create a guest list of everyone who would attend the book release; if you want to star on a talk show, why not take a head shot and create a show name; if you want to be a professor, start referring to yourself as Doctor in your journal (but don’t, of course, ask other people to do the same).

If you really want to graduate, why not take a first step today and start planning that outfit?

  1. Write a permission slip.

Before shame researcher, writer and Professor Brene Brown met Oprah Winfrey (I’m so jealous), she wrote herself a permission slip that said:

“Brene, I give you full permission to be yourself and completely nerd out over the fact that you’re meeting Oprah today.”

She placed it in her purse and carried it with her throughout the day as a reminder to be herself.

Not everyone needs this particular reminder, but on some days when you need extra help- a permission slip can be helpful. I made one for my first day of classes.

“Tiara, I give you full permission to be yourself and completely nerd out over the fact that you’re in GRADUATE SCHOOL at THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY. It’s okay to take notes and to be interested and engaged even if everyone else acts too cool for school.”

Luckily, my cohort mates were also excited and didn’t seem to mind my enthusiasm, but a permission slip reminded me throughout the day that it was okay to by myself. Of course, you could always just be yourself- but why not have a little fun and make yourself a reminder?  What have YOU been longing for permission to do- to apply for that new position, to submit that article, to stop engaging in so much emotional labor for others…to just be yourself? This is a fun exercise to reflect on what’s holding you back. This is also an exercise that can involve others! If you know a friend or coworker is struggling, why not write an inspirational permission slip for them? I’ll start.

I, Tiara, officially give you permission to take a BREAK today. You’re still enough even if it doesn’t all get done.

  1. Make an altar to yourself.

Grab your favorite color of construction paper, grab some of your favorite pictures, quotes, and sentimental items, and make a permanent display that represents yourself and your dreams at home. When you need to connect and/or relax, go to that space and reflect. Think about the type of person that you’re changing into. Write a poem there or sing a song, but above all- celebrate the person that you are today, and how far you’ve come. On mine, I even keep a small journal where I can reflect on my biggest, most secret dreams!

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  1. Success leaves a blueprint….so find some role models.

For some people, it’s Beyoncé. For some people, it’s Seth Godin. For me, it’s Oprah. I interact with Oprah maybe once a week (no, not personally unfortunately). Whether it’s through an article, a quote, or watching Oprah on Super Soul Sunday- I love to hear her words. She inspires me as a black woman, and she also reminds me of my purpose: to spiritually and emotionally enhance the lives of people everywhere, to speak words that allow others to heal, to advocate fiercely for others, to create spaces where people are unafraid and unashamed to be themselves.

As motivational speaker Tony Robbins says “Success leaves a blueprint”- so we should each find a role model who inspires us to be great!

Who is that person for you? Who is that person that makes you want to be:

  • A better social justice advocate
  • A better Student Affairs professional
  • A better parent
  • A better (enter role or value here)

Once you have that person in your mind, go out and consume whatever that person has made! Read their book, watch their TED talk, and write down the advice that they have for YOU. Their advice will serve you well, and lead you on your way to success. Try to “interact” with them at least once a week. This will keep you motivated, and remind you that your goals are achievable.

  1. (Last, but not least) Honor yourself by honoring others.

Who has helped you this week? Who has said something that really made you think? Who has inspired you with their words of affirmation or helped you with that task you never thought would get done? Honor yourself by honoring someone else. Grab a card or their favorite treat, and send it to that person to let them know how much their words or actions meant to you. Who are you going to honor this week, and how are you going to show your appreciation for the people that surround you everyday?

I’ll end with this quote.

Image result for life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage

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