Waking up for a 9:30 a.m. class is no easy feat. It requires setting up to seven alarms with 10-minute intervals in between, requesting that my roommate carefully poke me and riding my bike to class as fast as I can to beat traffic at the circle of death.
Staying up from doing homework or from talking in the hall doesn’t matter in the end because when that iPhone traumatizing alarm goes off, it’s all the same. Laying in bed with the covers up to my nose and my legs a sprawled mess is too comforting and so hard to remove myself from.
And you know what’s also no easy feat? Deciding to wake up even earlier to dress up, do my makeup and pick a half decent outfit for said 9:30 a.m. class.
I like to participate in this form of self-expression. Picking out an outfit that may or may not include the coolest plaid skirt ever is fun. Curling your hair and burning off your right hand is fun.
Of course, accomplishing all these elaborate tasks just to get the right shade for my eyebrows or having really cool eyeliner is a sacrifice of sleep and energy. And I get asked questions about this all the time. “How do you even have the energy to do all that?” or “Who are you trying to impress?” get asked the most as I take a seat fashionably late in my intro seminar. The truth is that there’s no one to impress, no one to wow with my self-expression. I don’t wake up at 8 a.m. to do all these things just to have external validation from the guy across me who probably doesn’t even notice the subtle highlighter on the tip of my nose.
I don’t consider “dressing up” for lecture a waste of time either. Getting ready isn’t really about the outerwear, but if I think that I look “good,” then I’ll feel “good,” and I’ll do “good.” As stress during the middle and end of the quarter sets in, it becomes hard to maintain healthy habits.
Thus, my self-care comes in the form of putting on heeled boots and several coats of lip gloss. Sitting in the uncomfortable, butt-numbing seats is a lot more bearable when I feel my corduroy skirt against my legs. I don’t rub my eyes or yawn a lot because I need to avoid creating raccoon eyes with my mascara. Feeling good results in productive writing. I sure can type a lot faster with a red beret on and a cup of coffee because it gives off “Parisian studying vibes.”
Self-care comes in completely different ways and expressions depending on the person. Sometimes self-care is skipping lecture, and sometimes it means waking up five minutes before to maximize sleeping hours (and I’m very guilty of this too).
And sometimes red lipstick in a 9 a.m. class is a power move.
Contact Rachel Ochoa at racochoa ‘at’ stanford.edu.