Last week I felt as if I were a walking house—aflame. A month into my Masters Program, I am overwhelmed. My to-do list that once ranged from high priority to “if I get around to it” to a dramatic, “If I don't get all of this done, the world might end.” My inbox is never-ending and it just seems that I never have any time. Being young and ambitious is a wonderful thing. Your week is full of intention setting, mantras to get you through the day, and text conversations back and forth with your other go-getting girlfriends encouraging each other to keep going. But often times we don’t discuss the other part of this life, the feeling of a lack of control. That fear of not completing something that leaves you tight and tense all over. This uneasy feeling is quite unhealthy but can be inevitable every time Monday comes around.

Back to last week! There were two things on my to-do list that I deemed non-negotiable. Two items at the top that had to get done, otherwise I truly would suffer. They had nothing to do with graduate school, work or my professional goals. Instead, they had to do with me, my mental health and the care of my body. My self-care routine, a yoga class on a Saturday and an Insecure-soundtrack themed SoulCycle ride on Sunday, were the Non-negotiables. There was so much that had to get done, yet I could not budge when it came to those two. My mother even asked, “Why can’t you skip yoga today?”

Why couldn’t I simply skip to two most flexible items on my list? Because when my world feels like a warfare and control seems to be slipping out of my hands, the one thing I can do is take care of myself. To actively show up and be present in the works to take care of me for an hour or even fifteen minutes is so essential to my life. Audre Lorde once said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." I know many others may have seen my non-negotiables as selfish or maybe I wasn't stressed after all, but trust me, I was overwhelmed. 

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  – Audre Lorde

Yet I prioritized one hour of yoga and 90 minutes of sweating to Issa Rae’s Season 2 jams (shoutout to SoulCycle Instructor Kellen!) simply because it made me feel good. After those classes, I completed my week—without dying and with a smile on my face!

So for anyone out there who can relate to the feelings I have throughout my busy week, sit down and write out your to-do list. Make sure that your self-care for the week is on there, too. It doesn’t have to be health-related either. If sitting on your bed, watching A Different World (Dwayne & Whitley era) feels good, then do it. Whatever you choose, take care of yourself and put your non-negotiables at the top of your list.