Giving to others….and self

I do a lot of work with minoritized or underrepresented scholars in the academy. Many of the scholars are deeply committed to helping others, especially scholars from similar backgrounds and with fewer years experience in the academy.

As is the national trend for disproportionately higher engagement in service by minoritized faculty, many of the underrepresented scholars with whom I engage give selflessly and, often, beyond sustainable measures to support other marginalized scholars – especially students.

File:SakofaTime2.jpg
Image of Sankofa Bird which is based on an Ghanaian principle and frequently used to represent connecting the past with the present through intentional engagement and sense of responsibility to community.

In this giving, one of the targets often overlooked is self. It’s critical that scholars of the ‘giving to others’ persuasion also prioritize giving to SELF to ensure their own health and longevity. These individuals need to be intentional about scheduling self-care and maintaining an excellent routine of caring for self, in addition to caring for others.

Prioritizing self-care can be a challenge to marginalized scholars – who sometimes suffer from survivor’s guilt, imposter syndrome, unreasonably high & unforgiving (both often self-inflicted) expectations for success, or other counterproductive perspectives. Yet, the commitment to self-care has to be held as non-negotiable to promote long-term presence in, contribution to, and (sometimes) challenging of academic environments.

So I encourage each of you that have set a HIGH bar for task-related goals, such as writing and scholarship, for the summer to also set some summer self-care goals. For good measure, also set up a system of accountability to ensure that you give attaining your self-care goals your very best effort.

You DESERVE it, you NEED it….also the communities and individuals to whom you seek to give need your BEST effort and “cared for” self in the giving process. Giving to self frequently, well, and consistently is one way to ensure that you have access to your BEST self when you prepare to give to others.

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter discussing #mentoring, leading, and sometimes #selfcare at @BerondaM