I believe I was put on this Earth to fulfill a divine purpose: to use myself as catalyst towards the evolution of human consciousness. Everything I do points back to this purpose: what I write and create, the conversations I have, the way(s) I live in the world.

If I’m not honoring the conditions that allow me to function at my best, I’m not honoring my purpose. It is not only my right (and joy) to be my best and truest self; it is my responsibility.

This idea has become particularly relevant for me as of late;  protecting myself against the psychological warfare being waged against Black people has become a daily practice. I believe deeply that the ongoing murders of Black people at the hands of white police officers and vigilantes is a systemic effort to destroy the spirit by targeting the body. When I am inundated with violent and triggering imagery, fear and anger take a place in my heart where courage and hope should be.

Changing the world for the better is a pretty daunting task. Without bravery and optimism, this task becomes impossible. In order to protect the vision, I have to protect myself. If I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted/cranky/anxious/hopeless, my work suffers. So, I don’t watch the videos or read the articles. I click “I don’t want to see this.”  I stay off Facebook for the day. I get the information I need to #staywoke, and I keep it moving.

I honor the conditions that allow me to function at my best.

Ask yourself: When do I feel most present/engaged, healthy, and joyful? What are the circumstances that affect the ways in which I live or work, especially with regard to my safety or well-being? When am I my best self? 

Make a list of these activities and practices, and then make them a priority.

At the top of my personal list are the givens: being well rested, hydrated, physically active and nourished. Somewhere not too far from the top of this list are things like being adorned (when you look good, you feel good!), making gratitude lists, spending time with my sisterfriends, consuming and being surrounded by art, etc.

It may be easier to start with the negative; what are the circumstances (habits, practices, scenarios) that prevent you from functioning at my best? For me, these include obsessing over (and comparing myself to) people on the Internet, drinking too much alcohol, consuming popular (read: white-washed, heteronormative) media, and the aforementioned exposure to violent and triggering imagery.

The exercise is to minimize—and eventually eliminate—scenarios and conditions that get in the way of you being your true, whole, best self. It doesn’t have to be a huge life change—nobody’s asking you to become a Buddhist vegan yogi  (though like, #goals, tbh) — every step you take towards getting free is a necessary and worthy step.

So the next time you find yourself comparing yourself to whatsherface from undergrad, grabbing a bag of chips for lunch from the bodega, or staying up late when you know good and well you have to be up early the next day, remember: It’s bigger than you.  If you aren’t taking care of the vessel through which the offering comes, you aren’t taking care of the offering. If you are in service to the world— and you are— then you are worth just as much work as the work itself.