This may be late, but I thought it would be a good move to write down all the changes I intended to make this year in order to keep myself accountable. Even better, put it online so if I fail, I can have the entire internet shaming me for it! While a list may have been enough, I thought it would be useful to articulate and explain my full intentions. My theme for this year is conscious decision making, so why not start by thinking through all these changes?
Don’t be a hypocrite
I more often than not play the role of the “triggered liberal,” seizing the change to point out every instance of cultural appropriation and offensive commentary that I notice. Then, I’ll do things like wear Moroccan dress or travel to North Korea. Essentially, I need to learn to practice what I preach, because if I don’t, then nobody is going to take anything I say seriously (which they certainly don’t at present), and I’m just another White woman not willing to put in the work.
Be good to yourself
This whole “not being a hypocrite,” thing extends past just my liberal beliefs, but also to my treatment of myself and others. I spend extensive amounts of time reassuring my friends of their beauty and brilliance (as we all do in this time of college-induced imposter syndrome and low self-confidence), why not internalizing the advice and love that I dish out so easily. Therefore, one of the main things I want to do this year is to be good to myself, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I want to eat healthier (not less), start running, drink more water, take my meds every day, dress more professionally instead of wearing only clothes that are 5+ years old or those of my friends.
Act with purpose
Along this line of thinking, I want make conscious decisions instead of just doing. As one of my best friends Rhe-Anne often points out, I don’t always think things through before I act, which often leads to emotional chaos and extensive backpedaling in order to fix the mistakes that my impulsivity creates. I want to only do things that I actually want to do, and to explore why I do certain things. This sounds both selfish and obvious, but most of you know that I’m a very emotionally confused people-pleaser, and don’t always do things for the “right” reasons, which only ends up hurting myself and those around me.
Take up less space
The most difficult point on this list is something I have been grappling with for a while - my position of privilege as a middle-upper class American White woman, and how to stop using this privilege in a way which perpetuates the current unfair systems of power. How do I, as Rachel Cargle advocates for, do the work? To start, I need to cease any of my casual cultural appropriation, to listen, to stop being so defensive, and possibly most importantly, to not take up so much space. White people have taken up so much space for so long, we are constantly told that our voice should be heard, and often we take the spotlight instead of giving those who have been given so much less power an opportunity to finally speak their own truth. I want to use my privilege to empower others, and need to stop imposing myself in spaces that are not my own (which includes reconsidering where I travel to, as maybe White people have spent enough time in Africa and other places we should have never been in the first place, and need to fuck off now). I try to be a good ally when I can, but know that I still have a lot of work to do, especially regarding my photography and general white savior complex internalized from years of studying the Middle East in a French university.
Be more environmentally conscious
This relates back to not being a hypocrite - I have worked for so many environmental focused organizations that it’s unfair if not completely absurd to claim to help the environment when I’m not even doing something as simple as cutting out meat. I am trying to limit plastics and be more environmentally conscious in general, including going vegetarian, using my dishwater (even though I prefer hand washing dishes), and finding alternative methods of travel. I wanted to go vegan, but cutting out dairy and such in France and while traveling is practically impossible, plus I depend on my friends to feed me most of the time and I don’t want to be even more of a pain in the ass.
There are other simple changes I want to make: write more articles, spend time with people I love, improve my photography, remind the people around me how much I care about them, learn how to actually film and edit my videos, focus on positivity. There are easier said than done, but hopefully if I keep acting with purpose, then they will come naturally.