We are happy and excited to share with you our new project (sister project to awesome-things-about-myself
on tumblr): 31 Days of Yourself challenge!
Girls and women as a class are, since very early childhood, socialized into behaviors that are harmful and self-destructive. Being "nice", "polite" and "ladylike", denying yourself basic needs like food and rest, defining yourself by relationships with other people and sacrificing yourself for them... All of these (and many more) attitudes and behaviors are seen as values and something to aspire to as a girl and woman. And all of them lead to not putting yourself and your well-being first in your own life, not loving yourself (or hating yourself), and not even knowing yourself as an individual well enough.
That's the reason we (jacquelee
, a happily married lesbian couple) came up with this challenge.
In the first month of the new year (or in any other month you choose, if you don't end up doing it in January) you have a chance to focus on you, to do what you love doing, to get to know yourself better and to put yourself first.
The challenge is a pretty unusual one. If you want to you can do it only for and with yourself. You don't need to write answers to daily questions or post them on your blog or anywhere else. The daily challenges are small actions (with long descriptions) rather than questions. That said, if you want to keep a journal about the whole challenge, or answer some of the daily challenges in writing (since the possibility exists), you are always welcome to do so. If you post about it to tumblr, twitter, facebook or other media with hashtags (whether it's your daily entries or general thoughts about the challenge), you can tag with #31daysofyourself
The challenge is livejournal- and tumblr-based simply because that's where we spend the most time. Feel free to do it and share it with people absolutely everywhere on the internet, or even offline if you want to. All public posts we make about it are yours to link far and wide. :)Here is the link to this same post on tumblr for reblogging.31 DAYS OF YOURSELF01 - Make a list of who you are.
Write it down (either on paper or on the computer). Make it as long or as short as you want and feel comfortable with. You can include everything you want (what you like to do, your personality traits, anything about you that you can think of), but you CANNOT describe yourself in relation to other people. It doesn't matter if they would be positive, negative or neutral, things like "I'm a wife", "I'm a twin" or "I'm a good friend" are not allowed in this exercise. Keep your list for the rest of the month (or longer if you want to) because maybe other days will give you opportunities to add more things to the list, or maybe to cross some out and replace them with something else.02 - What is your favorite color?
It's not as simple a question as it sounds. Your favorite color doesn't have to (though it can) mean the color you wear the most, or the color that's fashionable, or the color you say whenever you answer this question because you got used to it. What is YOUR favorite color, the one that feels like YOU, the one that can make you happy when you see it? Name it, and focus on it today. Wear something in your favorite color, hang a picture on the wall, paint or otherwise create something, buy something new in this color... The possibilities are endless. :)03 - Listen to your favorite song.
It can, but doesn't have to be a song that you've been playing on repeat recently. It can be a song that makes you smile to yourself and dance. It can be a song that reminds you of a time when you were truly happy and truly yourself. Whatever song it is, it only matters that it is YOUR song. If you haven't heard it for a long time (either because you forgot about it or because you intentionally kept in the past), find it today on the old album or on the internet and listen to it again.04 - Find your favorite picture of yourself and share it.
It definitely doesn't need to be a picture that seems great because you look the way you're supposed to look according to society's beauty standards. It doesn't matter what type of picture it is, as long as it's a picture where you feel and look like YOURSELF, the happy, free and unique YOU. The picture that makes you smile at yourself in it and makes you want to be friends with the person you see. Share it in any way you want. Post it on the internet (on any privacy level you feel comfortable with) or just show it to someone in person.05 - Imagine and describe yourself in the future, if money and other people were not an issue.
You can write it down or just visualize it in your head, whichever feels more comfortable to you. What you define as "future" is up to you, but at least a year ahead is probably the best. Where would you be if everything was up to you? There's a catch - you CAN'T include your relationships to other people in your vision. "I would be in a romantic relationship" or "I would be a mother" or even "I would have a big circle of friends" are not valid answers here. Otherwise, anything goes! Having a career you love, studying what you're passionate about, learning new skills or hobbies, visiting new places or going back to places you love, or just relaxing at home doing what you love and maybe making a job out of it... Your vision is your own. :)06 - What is your special talent?
It doesn't have to be one of the talents that are considered "important" or "real", like singing or painting. And it DEFINITELY doesn't have to be (in fact, it cannot be) a talent that your parents or teachers pushed on you even though you've always disliked it. Maybe you are really awesome at remembering names of different cars, or at climbing trees, or at neatly organizing things, or at keeping attention of children and telling them engaging stories... As long as it's something you love doing and are good at, ANYTHING can be a special talent. :) If you have an opportunity to do that, spend some time today cultivating your talent. If not, talk about it to someone or make a post about it on the internet.07 - Take up space at least once.
It can take many forms depending on what you're going to do today. Don't try to make yourself smaller or irrelevant physically (for example by taking as little of your seat on the bus as possible, or by getting out of the way all the time when walking through a crowd). Speak up when you feel something is wrong, either in person or on the internet. Wear the thing you've always wanted to wear but didn't because people would judge you. Make silly faces, laugh out loud, burp or dance in public. Take a selfie and share it. Do anything that to you equals "taking up space". :)08 - Watch your favorite movie or your favorite episode of a tv show.
Just like other favorites on this list, it doesn't have to (but it can) be your current favorite. As long as it's not something you feel you're supposed to like (because it's famous or because of pressure from fandom or for any other reason), it can be any movie or episode. Something that makes you smile or calms you down or something you relate to and feel inspired by... Any movie or episode that is YOURS. :)09 - Talk to your favorite person.
Not necessarily the person you think SHOULD be your favorite (your family, your best friends or your partner can be toxic or even abusive, and you don't owe them anything if they are). Your favorite person is the person who can always make you smile and light up inside. When you're with this person you feel free to be fully yourself, you don't feel judged or unimportant or stressed. It doesn't matter who it is. If it's one of the people listed above - awesome. If it's a classmate or a co-worker, or a neighbor, or someone you only sometimes talk to on the internet, or anyone else - awesome. Spend time with this person today, either in person, or call them, or contact them online, or even write them a real letter... Spend your time with them the way that makes you happy and relaxed. :) If there's no way for them to contact you back today, either leave them a message or prepare something to send/tell them later. Do something that already makes you feel the positive energy. :)10 - Spend some time with nature.
It doesn't require changing your plans or even leaving the house. If you have a pet, spend time together, snuggle, play. If you have a garden (or even just plants in your room), look at the plants, maybe take care of them or plant some new ones. If you have free time and a possibility to go somewhere, visit a park or go see the river or go to any other place that is available for you. If you can't do any of this, look at your holiday pictures or find pictures on the internet of places you love and/or places you'd love to see in person - a sunset at the beach, snow in the mountains, a creek in the forest... Anything that makes you feel calm, peaceful and happy. :)11 - Do at least one thing that you want to do for yourself, but you tend to put it off because you feel like outside obligations (especially ones put on you by other people) or "rules" are more important.
Watch that movie or marathon that tv show, eat the food, read that book or magazine, go to the website that makes you happy, do something that others deem "pointless" or "useless" but you love doing... It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it's something you want to do for yourself, and as long as you don't make up excuses. "Because I want to" is the best reason and only reason you ever need.12 - Don't do at least one thing you don't want to do.
You might feel obligated to talk to someone who is toxic, or to change your appearance according to society's expectations, or to do school work you hate, or to do anything else that doesn't feel right to you or brings you down. If it feels forced and you know the obligation comes from the outside and is not what YOU want to do in YOUR life, don't do this thing today. That's enough. As an extra step you can add yesterday's challenge - instead of doing that thing you don't want to do, do something you love that you wouldn't have done otherwise. :)13 - Eat your favorite food.
The food that is actually YOUR favorite, even if it's "weird" or otherwise frowned upon by anyone else for any reason. If you cannot eat it today (no money to buy it, no time or energy to make it, health or recovery issues, or other reasons such as "seasonal fruit is my favorite and it's winter"), make an appointment with yourself to eat the food at the very next opportunity you have. A real appointment that you put in your calendar, on your to-do list or otherwise seriously include in your plans. And then follow up on it. :)14 - At least once when you feel the impulse to say "sorry" (except when it's an actual apology for an actual wrongdoing), don't say it.
Behaviors like trying to speak in a group or in class, wanting to take more physical space, dropping something and having to pick it up, making an error that didn't hurt anyone, forgetting something, and countless other things that women are socialized to say "sorry" for... None of them warrant an apology. Existing in public as a human being when you're a woman doesn't warrant an apology.15 - Revisit something that you loved as a child.
It can be a movie, a book, a hobby... anything you can think of that really mattered to you when you were little. Look it up on the internet, maybe there's a way to watch the movie or tv show, or to read at least parts of the book. If you were very interested in some field of knowledge (like dinosaurs or space) and then school and/or lack of time took the passion away from you, read or watch something about it today, just for yourself. If you loved doing something that you haven't done for a very long time (like drawing, singing or crafting), do it today and rediscover the fun. Don't pay attention to the results - even if you didn't get any better at the skill since you were 4, it doesn't stop you from doing it today! :)16 - Voice at least one unpopular opinion you have.
It doesn't matter how "significant" it seems to you, and if it's a simple "I think this blockbuster movie is overrated", or something about your hobbies, or fashion, or politics, or a disagreement with fandom. Anything counts, as long as it's an opinion you usually hide because it doesn't align with the popular opinion (either in general society or among people you know). Obviously you don't need to be confrontational about it, unless you want to. If it causes you stress, it's not worth doing. Either say it to someone who wouldn't start a fight with you, or pick something not very controversial, or maybe just write a casual rant on the internet (in a place where people are not going to attack you) about the opinion you've been holding in for too long.17 - Spend 10 minutes (or more if you want to) in front of the mirror and only say positive things about your body.
Point out your favorite physical features and body parts. Look at your whole body and appreciate it for what it can do and for belonging to YOU (an awesome important person). Any negative opinions about your body are not allowed. "This part of my body needs to become different and then I can love it" is not allowed either. Obviously if you can't stop negative thoughts you didn't "lose the challenge". Losing doesn't even exist here - participating means you are already a badass winner, it's automatic and obvious. :) Acknowledge that the negative thoughts exist but don't make them a part of your mental list (or actual written down list, if you want to make one) that you get out of this exercise.18 - Spend 10 minutes (or more if you want to) in front of the mirror and only say positive things about yourself.
It's a different challenge than yesterday. If you thought of more things about your body that you love, by all means include them today! :) Otherwise, think of all your favorite things about yourself that don't have to be related to your body. It can be your personality, your quirks, your achievements, anything at all, as long as it's about YOU and not about your relationships with other people. Be your own best friend at least for these 10 minutes. The things you list need to be YOUR favorite things about yourself, not things you're supposed to consider good because people you know and/or society in general value them in people (especially in women). Everything positive counts, no matter how "insignificant" it seems.19 - Don't push yourself beyond your limits.
It's a different exercise than the "don't do what you don't want to do" one, because this time it doesn't have to originally be something you didn't want to do. This time the point is to stop when something you normally like (or at least don't mind) becomes too much and causes a strain or even becomes harmful to you. It might be working on an interesting project until your body is falling asleep, or being there for a friend in trouble until it saps your mental and emotional energy, or any other activity where you begin to ignore warning signs from your body or mind. Today take a while to recognize if what you're doing becomes too much for your physical or mental well-being, and allow yourself to stop and rest.20 - What is your favorite thing you've created?
It doesn't matter what it is (a poem, a drawing, a fanfic, a computer graphic, a school essay, a piece of clothing, a toy, a song... anything). It doesn't matter what other people think about it. It doesn't matter how "insiginificant" or "pointless" you might think it is. It doesn't matter how long ago you made it. As long as it's your creation and you're proud of it, it counts! :) If you still have access to it, show it to someone, either on the internet or in person. If you don't have access to it anymore, still think about it and how it made you feel to create it, and then pick something else you've created that you also like and show it to someone.21 - Every time you see your reflection today, smile at yourself.
That's it. It doesn't matter if it's because you intentionally look in the mirror, or because you pass one, or even because you pass a glass door or a window where you see your reflection. Smile at the awesome and important person you see there. :)22 - When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
No answer is "wrong", whether it was something completely fictional (like a dinosaur or an elf) or an actual occupation that exists. The only important thing is that it needs to be something YOU wanted to be, not something that your parents or teachers wanted you to be, or something that you felt you should be, or something that felt "realistic" but not particularly exciting. Think about what it meant to you. What would the job actually be, what personality traits would it need and what kind of activities would it entail (courage? confidence? creativity? exploration? being the center of attention?). Remind yourself what vision of yourself was important to you when you were a kid. In the rare case when the actual occupation is still something you'd like to do but you gave up on it, research it today, see how you could possibly still do it, even if it doesn't become your job. If your dream job was fictional or if it was something you don't want to do anymore, think about how you can include its general vision of yourself into your daily life.23 - If you police and correct your posture for reasons other than health (such as appearance, gendered behavior expected from women and any other reason that comes from outside "rules" and other people's judgement), make a point to not do it today at least once.
Sit, stand, walk and move the way YOU do it, the way that is natural to your body before you think "this is not attractive/elegant/feminine/etc." and modify it. If policing your posture is not a specific problem to you, let this day be another exercise in having your body take up space instead of making yourself smaller and/or getting out of the way.24 - Read your favorite thing.
It doesn't matter if it's a book (obviously just a part or a few parts of it, if it's any longer than what you'd reasonably read during one day), a magazine, a blog, fanfiction or anything else. As long as it's not something that you feel like you "should" like (because it's "mature" and "not silly", or because it's popular, or because it's school-related or for any other reason), anything counts. Read what YOU love reading. Read what makes you happy or relaxed or inspired. Read what makes you not want to stop reading it. :)25 - Visit or think about your favorite place.
I think in most cases it's going to be impossible to visit your favorite place today, so just look at pictures you took there, read a book or something on the internet about it, talk about it to someone who was there too or introduce someone to it... Most importantly, make concrete plans to go there when it's possible (as long as it is possible). If the place is somewhere close (or if your favorite place is your house or your room), go there and cherish it and just be YOU there. :)26 - At least once during the day notice any negative inner voice about yourself and change it to something that you would say to a person you like.
Whether the negativity you're feeling is "warranted" (you failed an important exam or got fired) or judging yourself is something you're used to doing in everyday life, don't say to yourself anything you wouldn't say to someone you like. "You're stupid and you always fail" is out. "You can do better next time and you had some bad luck" is what works. Same with "you're ugly", "you're worthless", "you don't deserve [this good thing]" and any other negative messages. If it's something that would hurt both of you if you said it to a person you like, don't say it to yourself today.27 - Except if it's your job, don't smile when it's expected of you, only smile when you genuinely feel like smiling.
At least once today don't smile because people say you look prettier or seem more confident, or because smiling is expected from a woman and her natural facial expression is automatically called "bitchface", or because it makes your arguments more palatable, or for any other reason that doesn't come from your own body and your own emotions. You don't owe it to anyone to fake a smile and you deserve to express your own emotions exactly the way they are.28 - Think about what you consider embarrassing, and why you find these particular things embarrassing.
If there are people in your life who judge you for your forms of self-expression or for your quirks or for harmless errors you make, do they deserve to have their opinion be so important to you that doing these things scares you? If it comes up today and you have the opportunity to do something (anything at all) that you or people you know would consider embarrassing, go ahead and do it! :) You have the freedom to act the way you want to act (no matter how silly or unconventional or loud it is), to like what you like, and to make mistakes. It's YOUR life and other people's judgement can't take that away.29 - Try something that is new to you.
It doesn't matter if it's a new tv show, a new food, a new route to work, talking to someone you've never talked to before, a new hobby... Anything goes, as long as it's not something that other people asked you to do or something that you do because you feel a pressure about it from your environment. It needs to come from yourself, it needs to be something YOU are curious about. Either because you've been thinking about it for a while now, or because it's just an impulse you feel when you see this opportunity today. If you don't feel comfortable with change, it doesn't have to mean that this exercise is not for you. The point of it is definitely not to push boundaries. The point is to see the chances and opportunities you get to do different things you want to do, and to see that you can take those chances.30 - Go back to the list of things about yourself that you made on the first day.
(If you've been going back to it during the month, that's awesome!) See if and how much the list has changed after this month. Do you have anything to edit or cross out? More importantly, do you have things to add? Do you see yourself more positively, more clearly, more fully, and (which is THE most important thing) do you see yourself more through your own eyes? Not as images of you created and/or enforced by other people and society. If you see yourself more as YOU than you did before, even a tiny little bit, then this challenge has been even more successful than we dreamed it would be. :)31 - The challenge is over.
This point is not a part of it anymore. But it would be awesome if, starting today, you treated yourself at least once a day like you would treat someone you really like. Like you would treat someone you love. Because you deserve it. :)