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Giving Yourself the Space you Need to Grow

By:  Ashley Powell, Americorps Public Ally, DVN

The past ten months have been wild. When I started this term of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies and the Domestic Violence Network (DVN), I had no idea what I was in for. The friends I would make, the lessons I would learn, and the skills that I would gain. As my ten-month term ends, I find myself looking back on the impact that this adventure has had on my life, both personally and professionally. I have learned to speak up for what I believe in, and how silence will never lead to change. I have gained extremely valuable skills, like public speaking, that I will be able to continue to cultivate in my future positions. One of the most valuable skills I was encouraged to work on, however, is self-care.

When I first joined AmeriCorps Public Allies, I had a totally different idea about what self-care truly looked like. To me, self-care was ignoring all of my problems with chocolate, bath bombs, and Netflix. I would do anything I could to avoid handling whatever was stressing me out. As my term of service began to get busier, both in my personal and professional life, I began to learn the hard way that my so called “self-care” habits were not taking care of me at all. I had created a toxic cycle of habits that lead to extremely high levels of stress.

As I hit my breaking point within the program, I began to truly understand what I needed to do in order to take care of myself. Very frequently, self-care is not as glamorous as it is advertised to be. It involves making difficult decisions, like removing toxic relationships from your life. This is one of the most difficult decisions to make. However, I learned that while it is hard, it will also lead to a healthier life. Self-care also means facing the problems that have been weighing in the back of your mind for weeks. The kind of problems that begin to cause a slow build-up of stress that grows into a heavy weight, where it feels almost unbearable to face. Self-care is recognizing the areas in your life that are stagnant and creating negative energy in your day-to -day life, and actively taking steps to create growth in those areas. Self-care is hard. Learning healthy habits was honestly one of the most difficult experiences I was faced with over these past ten months. Yet, while it was difficult, I learned that by implementing these healthier practices, my professional life would flourish, and so would my personal life.