“You can’t always be reacting. You need a space where you can just be.”
As my Black Studies lecture came to an end, I scribbled down this piece of advice from my professor before packing my things and leaving. She explained that there are many stereotypes, oppressions, and political and social forces one can react to. However, reacting all the time to these things is not healthy for us individually, and we need a time and place to escape reacting and to just be us, knowing that who we are and how we are is beautiful and enough, contrary to how larger social forces paint us. Being involved with politics and being surrounded by others enlisted in the same battle, I found this quote very applicable. With the multitude around me always fighting and involved in some political issue or another, this unanticipated and fresh piece of advice rang true in my mind.
If my political/reacting self were who I am all the time, I would be a different person. I would be an angry, pessimistic, aggressive person who keeps pushing his individual wants and needs onto others (at least I hope I’m not like this normally). It becomes necessary, then, for me to separate my political self from my personal self. But more so than this, politics and current laws have nothing to say about my personal life. Even though same-sex marriage is largely unavailable, I’m still going to date men and even settle down with one, should that happen for me. No matter what happens to me politically, I’m still going to be me personally.
This is not to say that political happenings should be completely disregarded. Politics and having people fight for a cause is vital, and I am incredibly grateful for those who do this for others. Indeed, laws exist and are being created to limit our rights and the rights of others. It’s necessary to fight against this discrimination and wide scale oppression, because these laws can make an impact on us personally. What I am saying, however, correlates with the idea of “leaving my work at work.” Ultimately, what happens on a larger scale level should not limit how I act or behave personally. Even if same-sex marriage never gets legalized in all 50 states, should that prevent me from falling in love and settling down with my partner of the same sex? No.
Nietzsche said it best when he said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” In taking care of ourselves, it becomes vital to not always be reacting to social forces, and separating the political self from the personal self. While what happens politically may affect me personally, it will never stop me from having the personal life I want. The government does not personally know my name, face, who I am, or my individual case. Why, then, should I let them be a part of my life?