The Four Phases of Self-Care

Sarah Adesikun, 19, London

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The four phases of self care.

Phase 1. The Realisation.  

I used to want to solve every problem in the world. Child poverty, human trafficking, gender inequality - the list was never-ending. I used to put all the wrongs of the world on my shoulders, and it got heavy.

Aren't we all like that sometimes? We burden ourselves with anxieties, worries, insecurities. Often, I didn't like to say what was on my mind because my mind is changing all the time and people expect you to stay the same.           

The only way we can begin to fix these problems is if we start by fixing ourselves. If we aren't complete within ourselves, how can we expect to fill other people's lives? If we ourselves are nearly empty, then what could we possibly have to give? To fight for what is right in the world, we must start within us. And that's how phase one happens - the realisation.

Now, the next phase is where it gets hard. 

Phase 2. The Unlearning.

How many of us black girls have heard the words "You're pretty, for a black girl"?

Young boys, how many of you have heard the words "Man up, boys don't cry"?

How many of, us, people of colour have used a word with more than three syllables and heard the words: "You talk really white?"

I won't lie to you, this phase ain't easy. 

I used to want to solve every problem within in me, and that too, got heavy. I can't pretend to love every kink in my hair, or the pigment of my skin everyday, all the time. But I can choose to begin my journey of acceptance and to accept ourselves, that's the first step of unlearning. 

We will break down the beauty standards, we will smash the wall of gender expectations, we don't have to confine ourselves to racial stereotypes that are imposed on us. Lets rebel against them, refute them, reject them. To be ourselves in a world that is constantly trying to make us something else, that's the most courageous achievement - and that's the act of unlearning. 

Phase 3 - The Action. 

Now unlike the others, this phase requires physical effort.

I still want to change every problem in the world - you should still want to change them, too.  

I’m becoming the girl who finally realises that she will always have choices, and that she will always always choose to feel empathy, be compassionate, and to fight injustice at any time, any day. 

But, this is about you as much as much as it is about me. 

You have to get off the train when the destination is unhappiness. You have to get up from the table when justice is no longer being served. And when you do get off from that train, and get up from that table and begin the journey within yourself - only then will you be able to begin to fight for what is right. This is the phase that propels you. It's this phase - the action - that changes lives.

So, we've made it to the end. This is Phase 4. And phase four doesn't have a title. 

Phase 4 is where you sit when the fixing has happened.

Phase 4 is going out into the world, unashamed of who you are, and unafraid of what is to come.  

Phase 4 is you - and I - no longer needing to fight within ourselves, but now ready to fight for others. 

So. What phase of self-care are you at? And where do you want to be? My phase 4 is called healing - I hope you'll find your phase 4. 

Sarah is a member of our Young Leaders programme. The Almeida Young Leaders is a scheme giving young people with something vital to say, the tools and platform to do so. Each young leader has been mentored by a writer and director to develop their ideas, structuring a speech and skills in public speaking.