how i take care of myself - warsan shire
- long baths
- bill murray
- somali tea (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves)
- read the qur’an in english out loud to myself because it is a long poem
- don’t take anything personally
- never assume
- go to another town
- another city
- another country
- get a facial/manicure/pedicure/massage
- tell them how i feel/what i want
- think/speak positively about myself
- drink water
- give myself time
- slow down
- don’t apologise for retreating/slowing down/needing time
- don’t say sorry when i mean excuse me
- trust my intuition
- less red meat
- be assertive
- don’t fall in love with narcissists
- tell the truth
- forgive myself
- set my alarm as ‘wake up baby’
- don’t shrink
- if hungry, eat
- go to the movies alone
- go out to eat, alone
- wear lipstick to the grocery store
- wear perfume to bed
- take photographs of self to document existence
- don’t settle for him because he thinks you’re beautiful and you think no one else will find you beautiful, because that’s bullshit.
- wear sunglasses indoors
- don’t compare yourself
- don’t compete
- rub oil into your skin until you glow
- go to book shops
- go to record stores
- long drives at night time
- watch horror movies in the morning
- speak somali as often as possible
- rap karaoke
- prank calls
- dance fights
- on buses/trains sit next to people who smell good
- don’t engage in small talk, you hate that.
Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.
The sentiment that we are “permanently” doomed to an unequal and squalid political-economic situation is not some brave minority position. Only someone who confused reflexive negativity with thoughtful critique would think so. On the contrary, it’s the most conventional possible type of thinking, beamed at us every hour from almost all mainstream outlets: Don’t think too big or expect too much. Confine yourselves to the pettiest possible political debates. Stay at home, or, if you are an artist, stay in your studio.
These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.
This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works.
There needs to be a code word or something that means “my brain is fighting me every step of the way today and I feel like I’m going to vibrate out of my skin, so I need you to forgive everything and go slowly and speak softly and lower your expectations.” And then we could all just be like, “I know I said we could go to a movie tonight but… tangerines.” And the other person would nod and squeeze your elbow or rub your head and you wouldn’t feel like a failure.