#WCW: Beyoncé, from Queen Bey to Grammy Goddess

By Gaby Germanos, HCWC Intern

WCW 2-14-17 Beyonce Knowles Carter.jpg

This week’s #WCW is Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Beyoncé needs no introduction – for the past two decades, she has been making music and visual art that is at once groundbreaking, emotive, catchy, empowering, dance-able, and beautiful, taking over the charts and our hearts (corny, but you know it’s true).

I’ve always been a Beyoncé fan: not a fanatic, not a worshipper, but a fan, someone who enjoys her music and celebrates her success. Since Beyoncé released her surprise self-titled album in 2014, admitting that you don’t lovelovelove her, or even like her, has become a major offense, punishable by ridicule at best and social exile at worst. Some of my friends regularly gush about Beyoncé, and while I do like a lot of her music, I really do, but, much like the hype over Taylor Swift, I never really understood what all the fuss was about.

Until Sunday night.

I watch the Grammy’s every year, but I don’t expect a revelation. This year, I was looking forward to sitting back with some ice cream and enjoying some groovy performances by Bruno Mars and the Weeknd, some of my favorite contemporary mainstream artists. Instead, I was served pure beauty, grace, joy, and power on a golden platter, in the form of Beyoncé, who transformed herself into a literal queen. [If you haven’t watched her performance yet, please do!!]

In that moment, it didn’t matter to what extent I usually enjoyed Beyoncé’s music – of course, her voice sounded impeccable, as it always does, but her performance was more than just a showcase of her musical ability. It was simply awe-inspiring to see a pregnant woman of color onstage who was glorified – no, who glorified herself – and gave off an aura of sheer dominance. She was not an object to be sexualized and consumed. She was a deity, whose simultaneous interwoven strength and vulnerability made me look inside myself to find my inner deity. (Yes, yes, I’m still corny, but it’s all true!)

That night I fell in love, not with Beyoncé the singer/songwriter/producer, but with Beyoncé the goddess.

As I watched her pour her heart out into the music, holding her belly as if it contained the most precious things in the world, I felt hope. Right now, a lot of us are scared and confused about what’s happening in our country and in the world, and we don’t often see clear rays of hope emboldening us to keep pushing forward against the tide. That night, as tears streamed down my face, Beyoncé showed me how to be strong, no matter who or what is trying to undermine me. She showed me that there is hope left, that there are people out there just like her.

To echo Adele – another hardworking, supremely talented woman tackling work and motherhood – Beyoncé should have been awarded more Grammy’s. Lemonade was not only one of the most revolutionary albums of 2016, celebrating Black joy and sharing a multitude of Beyoncé’s experiences as a Black woman, but it was also one of the year’s best-selling albums worldwide. For the Grammy’s to deny her much-deserved awards such as Record of the Year and Album of the Year was absolutely absurd.

But at the end of the day, does it really matter? It’s important for the Grammy’s to honor indie artists as a means of increasing their exposure (more on that in a future blog post), but does Beyoncé really need a a little golden gramophone statue to validate her art? I don’t think so. She has enough gold to last a lifetime.

beyonce-performance-grammys-2017.jpg

Advertisements

PostIt Comix 4: Love (In Theory)

love image.jpg

By Jessica Jin, HCWC Intern

Love is something that works great on paper, but in real life, well…

I jest. I’m not a jaded third-year college student who, much like the Grinch, has forgotten how to love. (okay, maybe just a little.) With Valentine’s Day peering around the corner like a stray hookup who’s forgotten their shoes in your room, it’s a good time to rethink the types of love that society prioritizes.

The kind of love that society legitimizes, either by talking about it more or by selling things that cater to its existence, is the kind of love that’s external, that has a name. The love of a significant other, or a spouse, or an ex. These are the kinds of love that get 2-hour-long movie slots on mainstream cable, or an entire candy aisle in a grocery store.

But there are also other kinds of love that need to be acknowledged and appreciated.

So this Valentine’s Day, here’s a shout-out to the kinds of love that play an important part in life, but are often overlooked:

  1. platonic love. this is something that’s taken for granted a lot of the times- but it’s that feeling of security when you’re with your closest friends. it’s a valuable thing.
  2. familial love. calling home too often is poked fun of as a surefire way to “never get laid.” whether or not you have a dinner date, the love and support of someone you’ve grown up seeing your whole life is something special.
  3. self love. this is most forgotten. it isn’t just a social media mantra, or always an excuse to throw responsibilities to the wind. this means treating yourself with the compassion and care you would a close friend, and appreciating and accepting your own limitations, flaws, and qualities.

Tell your loved ones you love them- whatever kind of love that may be.

 

-PostIt Comix is a weekly comic strip + blog post series that will be running throughout the year.

Radical Self-Discipline: My (Controversial) Response to the Presidential Election

By Gaby Germanos, Harvard College ’18

Note: This piece is about pessimism and self-discipline in the face of the presidential election. If you’re looking for optimism, uplifting thoughts, or self-care tips during these trying times, click away now.

As I look around Harvard right now, there seems to be a rhetoric of post-election night “healing” permeating the campus. Students, faculty, and staff are in shock over the election results, and people are gathering in various spaces to pour out their feelings and lean on each other for emotional support. I get this phenomenon. I don’t just get it—I actively encourage it. It is extremely legitimate and underrated/under-appreciated way of reacting to trauma. (In fact, Black feminists such as Audre Lorde and Angela Davis have even framed self-care as a revolutionary form of protest, especially for women of color.) Unfortunately, this type of response is just not for me.

You see, I don’t want to “heal” right now. I don’t want to “cope.” I don’t want to  figure out the best way to “deal with it.” I don’t want to engage in acts of “self-care.”I’m not watching funny videos to distract myself. I’m not opening the articles with titles like “5 Democrats We Should Elect in 2020,” or anything referencing the “silver lining” in the cloud that is this election. No, I want to dwell on this. I want to mourn. I want to experience feelings of disappointment with or even hatred towards those who caused this tragedy to ensue. I want to sit at my computer and scroll through my newsfeed absorbing the sadness of others.  I did all of these things last night, as I sat in my room alone and watched the results come in on MSNBC for 5.5 hours straight. I’m continuing to do these things today. I’m going to do it all tomorrow, and the next day, until I feel I don’t have to anymore.

You might be wondering why I’m doing this. It sounds like torture, right? Well, maybe it is. But I have a concrete rationale as to why I’m “torturing” myself, and it boils down to two main things: the transformational power of self-discipline, and the twin motivational forces of fear and pessimism.

Self-discipline has always been a valuable part of my life. Growing up, my parents encouraged me in everything I did, and I was never punished for making a mistake. When I was in the 5th grade, I left my binder full of homework at school for the first time ever, and I cried. My mom offered to drive me back to school that night to get it, and I refused, believing in the importance of conditioning; if we went back for my binder, and I was able to do my homework, that wouldn’t teach me not to do it again. My mom thought that seemed a bit excessive, but hey, I wanted to learn a lesson. Lo and behold, it’s been over 10 years since that day, and I never again forgot my binder at school.

I’m taking a similar tack in reacting to the election. While I didn’t vote for Tr—p,* I am complicit in his victory, since I didn’t do much to stop him. I didn’t canvass, participate in phone banks, or try to convince many people to vote for Clinton. Until election day, I didn’t even post on Facebook about it (and even then, it was a pretty minimal post). I could make excuses about my social anxiety (which is a real thing), or being too busy, etc. etc., but those would be BS excuses. Frankly, I could have done a lot more, or at least something more. By subjecting myself to the reality of a Tr—p presidency, I’m disciplining myself. I’m pushing myself to change. If I don’t do this, there’s a real chance that the same thing could happen in 4 years, and I’ll be kicking myself yet again for doing the bare minimum.

So, I’ve decided that I want to be make a difference. Now what? Well, here’s where the fear and pessimism come in. I’m not easily motivated by optimism. I’m a pretty optimistic person, but that technique doesn’t often do much for me. It usually ends up hurting me, as I become complacent with the status quo. When I’m genuinely afraid of the outcome of something, I’m motivated to take action. This plays out on a daily basis. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t happy with the grade I received on a paper. That made me try extra hard on the next paper so I could still get an A in the class, and, spoiler alert, the grade on my next paper was much better. Just today, it finally dawned on me that a physical health issue I have been struggling with recently wasn’t going to get better on its own, so I finally hauled my butt to Urgent Care (despite my hospital-induced anxiety). It turned out that my issue is probably pretty minor, and that it was good that I went in today before the problem became worse. Basically, fear for the win (#outdatedexpressions).

That’s why I’m allowing and encouraging myself to feel scared about a Tr—p presidency. That’s why I’m not putting my energy towards envisioning how this will all be okay somehow. That’s why I’m not looking to unite with my fellow Americans to make a better tomorrow. Instead, I’m going to accept that the electorate (and the stupid electoral college) messed up and that the next 4 years might be terrible. I’m actively thinking about how terrible it will (not may) be. My pessimism regarding the consequences of this election prompts me to do something to stop it. If I tell myself that the terrible things that will happen will be difficult to stop, I’ll want to work harder to stop them. I won’t stand for complacency anymore. Hey, if this line of thinking worked for the Tr—p campaign—who bashed the state and future of our nation for months and months—then it can work for me, too.

I know these tactics are working for me already, because after less than 24 hours of experiencing a swirling mess of anger, sadness, frustration, and near total loss of hope, I had a revelation. For the first time, I don’t just want to vote; I want to be a hyperactive participant in the political process. This has been an option on the table for a couple years, but as of right now, I have definitively decided that I want to strive for a career in policy-making, be that as a political consultant/advisor, as a policy writer, or maybe even as an elected official. I want to have a hand in ensuring that nothing similar to what happened on Tuesday night ever happens again, at least not in my lifetime.

Going forward, if I do end up running for some elected position in public service, I’m not going to base my platform on fear and pessimism. That’s merely my personal way of doing things. I’m not looking to start a national “Make America Great Again…But For Real, This Time” campaign. I’m not asking people reading this piece right now to embrace how I have chosen to react to the election. I’m also not asking other people to discipline themselves. I want everybody to do what is best for them. Right now, I can handle the fear, pessimism, and harsh self-discipline, because I’m in an emotionally strong state coming into the next presidency. I’m white, I’m able-bodied, and I’m financially well-off. My spiritual/religious beliefs aren’t under attack, I have never experienced violent sexual assault, and I don’t have loved ones who are living here without documentation. While the sight and sound of Tr—p elicits feelings of rage inside me, I know that I am emotionally equipped to deal with this right now that and many people, understandably, are not. I also recognize that many people do want to enact change and take charge in shaping our country’s political future, but only through a lens of optimism. That’s valid, too. (I mean, you’re following in the footsteps of President Obama who, may I remind you, won the election twice on a platform of hope. I can’t argue with that logic.)

With all that in mind, I want to offer my support to everyone reading this. If you are my friend, family member, classmate, housemate, etc., and you want to think positively right now and would benefit from an uplifting conversation, I’m here for you. I’m also here for you if you want to rage with me, or grieve with me, or be pessimistic with me, or all of the above. I’m here for you if you want to stay up late talking about where to go from here, and all the wonderful things we can accomplish in the future. The wellbeing of those around me is important, and if I can aid in supporting that, I will try everything I can to do so.


*Though it is potentially quite hypocritical given what I’m writing about in this piece, I’m hereon refusing to acknowledge the President Elect by his name, given that I don’t want to participate in legitimizing/recognizing his presidency. If I have to refer to him in writing, I will write “the President Elect” or “Tr—p.” This is an act of  intentional erasure, as I do not believe he deserves the presidency. While I respect the office/position of the President, I do not respect him.

Gaby Germanos is a junior at Harvard College concentrating in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality with a secondary in African American Studies.

PostIt Comix 3: I Want Mitski to Be My Mom

postit-comic-3

By Jessica Jin, HCWC Intern

I’m holding my breath with a baseball bat
Though I don’t know what I’m waiting for
I am not gonna be what my daddy wants me to be

I’m gonna be what my body wants me to be

-Mitski, Townie

List of ways Mitski feels like my mom:

  1. Asian female role model
  2. Her clothes look comfortable
  3. Kind
  4. Yells sometimes

I don’t actually want Mitski to be my mom. But there’s something about the way her words tell me exactly what I need to hear, tell me all the damaging stuff I’m doing to myself, tell me to take care of myself more, that feels like a good cry after calling your mom.

I went to (another) Mitski concert last night, and it was all the energy and catharsis that I feel every time I listen to her music alone. If you’ve never been to one, it’s like you, your tears, your racial angst, your tenuous self-esteem, and an echoing scream in a large dark room. It sounds like how you’d imagine your favorite dish from home tastes like.

And here’s one last thing. Mitski reminds me to treat my body like a friend. Something I sometimes disagree with, but something I need to respect and listen to.

So here I am, body- I’m listening.

 

-PostIt Comix is a weekly comic strip + blog post series that I (Jessica Jin) will be running throughout the year.

Seeking Comfort in Discomfort: A Continuous Process

By Gaby Germanos, HCWC Intern

No, this is not a rant about safe spaces or the coddling of millenials on college campuses. Rather, this a collection of thoughts from a college student (me) on the search for emotional and mental “safety” on, you guessed it, college campuses. I would like to preface these thoughts by noting that they are derived primarily from my own experiences, so take from them what you think will be useful for your own life. Bear in mind, though, that because the purpose of this article is to prompt you (college student or not) to seek discomfort in your daily life, I urge you to also entertain—at least momentarily—some suggestions I make that don’t necessarily seem like good ideas for you.

With all that out of the way, let’s start at the beginning, waaaaaaay back in the summer of 2014.

giphy.gif
Circa 2014, when Spotify and CDs didn’t exist and everyone listened to music on tape, and we had to walk to school every morning in the snow uphill both ways

It was nearing the start of my freshman year. I hadn’t given a ton of thought as to what I wanted to study, or which activities I wanted to pursue, but I knew I wanted to do something new. As someone who has never been a big fan of change, transitioning from high school to college—one of the biggest changes of my life—seemed like as good a time as any to hurl myself into some new situations. (And, if you know my love of routine, “hurl” is a pretty accurate word for that.) My first step outside of my comfort zone was to sign up for the First-Year Outdoor Program (FOP), a week of camping and backpacking in the Appalachians. While I certainly enjoyed taking long walks, as a moderately lazy person with a knee condition, I preferred my hikes to be almost entirely horizontal. Also, the idea of living without running water or a bed for any period of time appalled me. Basically, FOP scared me more than any of the other freshman pre-orientation programs, so, naturally, I signed up right away.

Spoiler alert: it ended up being pretty damn scary, and difficult, and exhausting. But I also learned that I’m one tough cookie, and that if I can get along with a bunch of new people and poop in the woods and scale a mountain, all the while dealing with aching knees and my period (because of course it would come that week), I can pretty much do anything. I haven’t done any camping or backpacking since FOP, but that wasn’t the point for me: I conquered my fear and, more importantly, learned that I am capable of conquering my fears, one of which was stepping outside of my comfort zone in such a major way. I did it once, and I could do it again, so do it again I did.

Once FOP was over and I had officially started my freshman year, I continued looking for new ways to embrace change. Academically, I was looking forward to exploring English, philosophy, and sociology, but on a whim, I accompanied someone in my entryway to a class they were shopping in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS). I had dabbled in “Tumblr feminism” over the summer, but I had never seriously concerned WGS as a concentration. To my surprise, I loved everything about the course, so I stayed.

I also went out of my way to seek discomfort in my extracurricular life—in one instance, quite literally, when I ventured all the way to the Quad to attend the first rehearsal of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. When I first told my family and friends about Kuumba, they gave me strange looks, since (a) nobody I knew was joining, so my interest was rooted in something other than peer pressure; (b) I had never sung in a choir, much less a choir that solely sings music from Africa and the African diaspora; and (c) I had no idea how to navigate inhabiting a safe space for Black students and consistently being one of the only white people in the room. But I felt so drawn to the music, the people, and the mission of the space, so I stayed. I also joined a tutoring/mentorship program in which I made weekly group visits to a local all-male youth detention facility, even though nobody I knew growing up had even stepped inside a prison, much less been incarcerated. But the other tutors, and the guys we worked with, were so smart, hardworking, and fun to be around, so I stayed.

[Quick note: I must point out here that obviously these organizations do/did not exist in order to help white, economically-privileged young people like me experience change and discomfort and then metamorphose into a confident new butterfly. But the fact of the matter is, I did grow from these experiences, not only because of the experiences themselves, but also because, like FOP, they showed me that stepping outside my comfort zone can be absolutely incredible and expose me to things that I really enjoy doing. It’s ok to learn something from an experience in an unfamiliar space, so long as you contribute to the growth of the space as much as it has contributed to yours.]

Of course, during my freshman year, I also pursued extracurriculars that I had enjoyed in high school. Funny enough, with all of these familiar activities, they either fell by the wayside, or I never made it passed the audition stage. (This latter phenomenon was a bit depressing, but I saw it as a sign that I should continue trying new things.] Thus, by the beginning of my sophomore year, my extracurricular life looked nothing like it had in high school, and, frankly, I was having so much fun.

Started-From-Bottom-Now-Im-Here-Hustle.gif
Me, dancing my way through sophomore year

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, AKA the middle of the first half of my junior year. I was giving a freshman some advice on joining clubs and finding their niche at Harvard, and I kept harping on the incredible effects of embracing discomfort. After the conversation was over, I walked away feeling proud of myself for giving such useful advice, when, all of a sudden, an unsettling thought passed through my mind: was no longer living by my doctrine of change. This semester, I’m still in Kuumba, which has now become a place where I feel emotionally and mentally safe. I’m (clearly) an intern at the Harvard College Women’s Center, and while this is my first semester on the job, the mission and overall vibe of the Women’s Center is one that makes me feel entirely comfortable, and it’s an office at which I’ve been interested in working since the end of my freshman year. As a WGS concentrator, I seek intellectually rigorous and challenging courses, but not courses that challenge my deeply-held beliefs or require me to work with unfamiliar methodologies. (In fact, last semester, all four of my classes were taught by WGS professors.) Granted, all these aspects of my life at one point caused discomfort for me, but I have now become too comfortable in these spaces for them to help me grow as a person in that special way that only discomfort can.

I’m not saying that I want to change my concentration, ditch Kuumba, and quit my job at the Women’s Center; these things bring me a lot of joy and constitute My Harvard Experience™. Nor am I advocating that you overhaul everything in your life and start afresh in order to experience personal growth. I am a firm believer that college is a time to “find yourself,” and once you figure out what makes you happy, I see no compelling reason to quash your happiness.

BUT—and here is the crux of this long ramble—”finding yourself” is also an ongoing, lifelong process, and there is no one version of “yourself” onto which you should desperately cling forever. Coming into college, I could have easily continued doing the same things I knew and liked, since high school was also a time of “finding myself.” However, had I done that, I never would have learned the valuable things I’ve learned , or become a part of the close communities I’ve joined, or had the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the spaces I’ve occupied. If I keep doing the things I’m doing now without deviation, who knows how many new people, ideas, and experiences I’ll miss out on?

Since this revelation, I’ve made a pact with myself to revitalize my freshman year goal of living outside of my comfort zone as much as possible. To start, I have applied for an internship at PBS, even though I have no experience in broadcast journalism. Sure, I might get there and have no idea what to do and completely flounder, but I’m sure that by the end, I will have gleaned some useful information and changed in some way. Maybe I’ll learn that broadcast journalism isn’t for me, and that’s useful information, too. I’m also planning on finally fulfilling my science general education requirements in the next couple of semesters (which I have been strategically avoiding due to a general distaste for the hard sciences and a irrational fear of labs). Perhaps I’ll even take some challenging seminars in topics that—gasp!—don’t directly relate to my interests.

In pushing myself to explore new, uncomfortable things, I hope all of you can try to do this, too, even on a smaller scale. This is especially important if you consider yourself an activist or, at the very least, an ally, since you will often be called upon to stick your neck out on behalf of a person, group, or belief that you care about, and those kinds of confrontations can often be difficult. I want to emphasize that I understand how hard change and discomfort can be—after all this, I still hate change. Sometimes in making these decisions, I don’t feel emotionally and mentally prepared, and it scares the crap out of me. But even when things don’t go well, I’m glad I went outside my comfort zone, at least 99% of the time. During that other 1% of time, I have a strong support system to help me out. It’s also important to push yourself to a point; while I think it’s ok if you aren’t always emotionally and mentally prepared to tackle something new (that is the point of leaving your comfort zone, after all), I don’t advocate that anyone seriously endanger their emotional or mental wellbeing. As the only person who gets to live in your skin, you’re the sole arbiter of which uncomfortable choices are ok for you to make. The purpose of seeking discomfort is to change your life for the better, so making decisions that do the opposite is not necessarily a good idea. But when and if you do decide that you’re ready to take the plunge, I hope you’re able to find comfort in discomfort and, when it becomes too comfortable, you find new ways to embrace change.

tumblr_lyni6f8dXK1r9qd2co1_500.gif
Go get ’em, you brave millennial you!

PostIt Comix 2: Erasure + the Mikado

postit-comic-2

By Jessica Jin

Erasure. Erasure. Erasure. Erasure. Erasure.

I’m saying it enough times that it hopefully doesn’t sound like a word anymore. That it disappears. I am Chinese. Erase my yellow skin. Erase my eyes. Erase my black hair. Put me on a stage where white men watch me. Watch them laugh. I’m invisible so they see right through me. Put someone else on stage, dressed in my skin, so they finally see me. I am whole. I am peace. I am transparent. I am erased. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

_

What they never tell you, what the inevitable most-protected most-taboo thing to say is, is that we don’t live in a post-racial society.

People of Color are Other. 

This is a fact. To say otherwise is to erase the reality of racial conflict, Black and Brown and Yellow death that continues to this day. This hour. This second.

The Gilbert & Sullivan Players are putting on a production of “The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu” this weekend. In the Crimson article they released only a few days before this show, they claim to be striving towards a vision of a “humane Mikado.” The dilemma they face?

“Strike “The Mikado” from our season, and ignore one of the most problematic but well-known G&S; shows, or try to confront it by reimagining it and subverting authorial intent.”

The intention is beautiful. I want to imagine a world where I can take a show based in the humiliation of my race and of Black races as well, hold it in my hands, and make it good. A show that includes the line “Toko for Yam,” a Victorian-era British-colonial term for beating a West Indian slave. A show that names a white person dressed as a Japanese person “Yum-Yum” and “Nanki-Poo.” Isn’t it beautiful? I subvert it, I take out “Toko for Yam.” I take out “Yum-Yum.” I take everything out of it. Its racist undertones are gone. I smile. My white donors smile. 

The intention is misguided. To call not putting on a play with distinctly racist colonial roots that have modern-day impact “erasure,” is to not fully know what erasure is. Erasure is sanitizing the script until it becomes palatable to the diversity-initiative sensitivities of the audience, and the cast.

When asked earlier why the Mikado could simply not be put on, the response from G&S was that there was a set rotation of shows. The response was that the play was a favorite of the donors. 

When Asian protestors did nothing more than create a Facebook Group to organize protest against the Mikado, to gather in support and solidarity of cultural defense, we received disrespect and dismay from members of the G&S cast, rather than the “welcome invitation to engage with the historical and contemporary implications.”

The words they said:

“I honestly think protesting this show would prove to be a waste of everyone’s time, because if you were to see this production or talk to any cast/staff, you would understand that this is not the type of show that needs to be opposed.”

Are we ignoring the fact that the president of the company is Asian-American and that the *subject* of this production (via its staging and dramaturgy — as opposed to the subject of the original text) is the exotification and commodification of Japanese culture for audiences that blithely indulge in racist consumer habits?”

The words they didn’t say:

I am not listening to you.

I am not aware that I could be wrong.

I don’t want to be wrong.

I’m sorry for forgetting.

Chinese bodies under the railroads.

Nagasaki.

“Gooks.” “Chinks.”

Vincent Chin.

Japanese internment.

I understand that you all have worked hard on this show. That it is a product of your effort, your sweat, and your tears, and you need it to be good. None of us who are fighting your show are devaluing all of your hard work. But here it is- despite your noble intentions, I despise it. It hurts me somewhere in the vast ocean between where my parents call home and where I call home. I wish it were never born. I think of the title of your play- “Titipu”- and I think of how laughter sounds after my mother speaks broken English. I think of British colonials giving my great-grandfather opium until he had no more money left and my grandfather didn’t go to school. I think of your eyes, looking away from all of us. Shame. Looking back, with anger and defensiveness. I see you seeing right through me.

I am finally quiet.

I won’t respond.

-PostIt Comix is a weekly comic strip + blog post series that I (Jessica Jin) will be running throughout the year.

 

Postit Comix 1: Sleeping In- On Laziness + Mental Health at Harvard

postit-comic-1

By Jessica Jin, HCWC Intern

Harvard students are not lazy.

Harvard students, at the least, cannot afford to be lazy. To be lazy is to squander something precious, our Lord and Savior Time, of which we have such few and scarce hours- to finish a paper, to rush a pset, to run a meeting, to catch a shuttle, to socialize with friends, to maintain appearances. It’s like a reverse Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, where basic human needs for survival, eating and sleeping, come after all else. You don’t compare how well rested, or well fed you are. Instead, you unzip your metaphorical jeans, you whip out your hours of sleep, and you compare whose has been the shortest. “Look at these dark circles,” you say. “Maybe it’s Maybelline. Maybe it’s sleep deprivation.”

Which is why, when I found myself lying in bed, fully rested for the first time in a month, having skipped my morning lectures and sections, feeling like a veritable Princess™, I was never more utterly ashamed of myself.

Why are the moments I’m most disgusted with myself the same moments in which I treat my body with the respect that it deserves? Mental health at Harvard isn’t just a diagnosis. Or a 3am trip to UHS (lol, those are fun). More than that, it’s a toxic series of socially institutionalized practices that we fall into every day. How can we counter that? If pushing yourself to breaking point is the ever-present Upside-Down dimension that we can’t escape from, what can we even do?

Recently I’ve been trying to practice radical self-care. That doesn’t mean doing a full-twist backflip directly into a Lush-bath-bomb infused tub of water. But consider:

You deserve to sleep.

You deserve to eat.

You deserve to watch TV.

You deserve to miss to classes.

You deserve to be lazy.

 

 

-PostIt Comix is a weekly comic strip + blog post series that I (Jessica Jin) will be running throughout the year. Or try to.