The end of university semester one is looming, and the stress of assignments, exams and day-to-day life has exponentially increased. It is second nature to say, and even worse, to believe, that we do not have enough time for ourselves. I find myself falling into a spiral of frustration at having many creative interests and ideas, not having the time to do them because of academic commitments, but needing the outlet as a form of stress relief. We scroll through Facebook, clicking “interested” on a myriad of progressive, artistic events, promising ourselves that we will go to at least one this month. The call for inspiration never ceases, but it seems that there is a blockage in the mind, ruling over what the heart really wants; to be expressive!
“The time that we put away for ourselves should be nourishing; a breath of fresh air from the daily pollutants of our mind”
“Self-care” has become the new phrase on the tips of our tongues. Mix a stressful day with a loss of motivation and some cash that we may or may not have, and we have a recipe for “self-care”. Whether it is a takeaway that we probably shouldn’t have, a new pair of shoes we will later berate ourselves for, or procrastination and laziness masked as a well-deserved break, we are all guilty. This is not to say that we should not treat ourselves within our means, or schedule in some “me time”. It is, in fact, the complete opposite. We must ensure that our “Self-Care Sunday” does not become self-indulgent. The time that we put away for ourselves should be nourishing; a breath of fresh air from the daily pollutants of our mind.
“The event dispelled my fears of failure in general and inspired me to work harder”
As a physics student, seldom do I get the chance to immerse myself in something purely creative. Yet, I have realised that I have no excuse. I was recently invited to the Wales Book of the Year Awards and fell in awe of the successes of not only the authors, but also the various art and literature committees, namely Literature Wales, that organised the event. The event dispelled my fears of failure in general and inspired me to work harder, not only academically, but merely at being a positive human being.
Prior to this, I visited a local community centre to support WOW Women’s Film Club which screens films starring, based on, or directed by people of colour. After a long time of putting off attending one of the screenings, I finally went. It was everything I imagined, and more. I was in a room surrounded by women of every shade, shape and nationality, all nibbling on biscuits and sipping tea. The screening for the day was Daughters Of The Dust, directed by Julie Dash and the inspiration for Beyoncé’s Lemonade. I was immersed into a nostalgia of home and community and felt a sense of inherent love and kindness between human beings amidst the daily turmoil that is amassing. These events and initiatives – with many more like them such as the Where I’m Coming from open mic and Cardiff Black Girl Magic – can bring me out of myself, out of my head and inspire a more proactive attitude within me. They allow me to put my life into perspective and take a more positive view on the world around me.
I’m grateful for these little pockets of creativity and artistic interest in the Cardiff BME community, especially as a young person of colour. I found moving to Cardiff hard, in terms of finding groups that I could identify with not only as a PoC but as someone with a deep creative interest. Of course, there is an Afro-Caribbean Society at my university, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who may not feel at home in these societies, who yearns for a simpler experience and isn’t so keen on dancehall event after dancehall event. Now, I like to dance as much as the next person, celebrating my own culture as well as other’s, yet my true self yearns for more immersive and artistic communities.
“I have witnessed the therapy of not only attending inspiring initiatives, but also in aspiring and beginning to run one”
After a delayed start and much coaxing, explicitly from my mind and subtly from the various events I have attended, I am making progress with my social initiative, BlackOnBlack; an upcoming literature company aiming to create a community that celebrates and promotes the excellence of PoC. Thoughts of failure and inadequacy initially deterred me, but after biting the bullet, creating my social media pages, and finally launching the first stage, BlackOnBlack Book Club, I have realised how much I needed to do this. I have witnessed the therapy of not only attending inspiring initiatives, but also in aspiring and beginning to run one.
Although I have big and bright ideas for the future of BlackOnBlack, I am enjoying the journey of connecting with people from all walks of life, building my resilience and having an outlet, away from academic life. And yes, I do indulge in the occasional takeaway and lazy day, but I endeavour increasingly to source out more enriching forms of relaxation. From attending a small local organisation where I can vent, share ideas, and express myself, to plugging in my headphones and blanketing my mind with a motivational podcast. Just an hour of yoga or a read of an article you’ve had saved for weeks can alter the trajectory of your day and even your week, and in the long run, lead you to opportunities you never thought you had the time for.