Macy Lee: Promoting Self-care Through Language
Jul 15, 2021
By : Tatiana Carrido
On mental health, language, and self-care
Every year, more and more students start to consider pursuing their education abroad. But added upon the many logistical factors to be considered are the implications of mental health. In a time wherein it’s not as easy to go home and be with our loved ones, how does one care for themselves as a student abroad?
For Macy Lee, a Filipina pursuing a double major in Psychology and International Relations at UC Davis, things got even more hectic coming into her sophomore year. Alongside her responsibilities as a student leader, she shares with us the different hurdles that come with being an international student. In particular, she opens up about an instance of temporary homelessness, which she describes as, “the biggest teacher of all.” As I talked to her about her eventful year, Macy explains the importance of language in not only communicating with others, but also as a point of self-care. We ended our conversation with her plans to continue raising awareness on the topic of mental health, as well as to bring Talang Dalisay’s global branch, My State of Mind to more universities around the world.
Tatiana: When you take into account your experience as a founder, an international student, and a member of the youth, what has been your greatest takeaway from these roles?
Macy: I think collectively from the past two years, I’ve learned a lot about my sense of self and also my awareness of other people and how I treat new people that I encounter. In relation to my leadership, I think it took a real toll on how I treated my team and how I changed the structure of the way we do things. I was in the States when COVID started, and I had a hard time looking for jobs because I planned to work part-time as a student. Unfortunately, during that time, I was able to experience homelessness. That was probably the biggest teacher of all in my experience of being an international student.
Tatiana: How did this experience impact your own mental health?
Macy: It definitely challenged me to an extent. I decided to live with my friends for a while, and I switched between two apartments during a three-month period which was really stressful. When I finally got settled into jobs and started working again with Talang Dalisay and My State of Mind, that’s when I realized the importance of empathetic leadership. Because I explained to my team, “Guys, I’m really sorry but I can’t work right now. I’m really not in the right headspace.” And thankfully, they understood where I was coming from. During that time off, that’s when I learned how important your team is, how important activism is, and how important that sense of family is within organizations.
Tatiana: What are some practices of self care that have helped you get out of a slump or downtime?
Macy: I talked with one of my good friends, Tony, who was telling me that it all starts with language. It really struck me how the way you treat other people with your language and the way you treat yourself through your own language is a really important point of self-care. When you’re more careful with your words and when you acknowledge other people’s identities, it really makes you have a higher sense of self. It encourages you to have more respect for yourself and other people.
Tatiana: On the topic of language, what is a personal mantra that you tell yourself when you feel overwhelmed?
Macy: When I feel overwhelmed, I do conscious breathing. After a while, I just tell myself that, “This doesn’t last forever.” In line with the idea, I tell myself that problems come and they go, and they also come for a reason. They don’t come to disrupt you or your flow in life. They’re here to challenge you to become a better person.
Tatiana: How would you advise incoming and current high school seniors who have been admitted or have considered studying abroad to deal with these changes?
Macy: I definitely still encourage people to go for it, even with the pandemic going on. I think the most important thing amidst covid is to have really good communication with your parents and with the specific country that you’re going to. I encourage people to discover as many resources as they can because the more you know the better. I was actually part of this mentorship, CAMP, which is a great resource as well. You get paired with someone abroad and they get to help you in that process of applying to schools or even just answering questions about studying in the States.
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Although Macy will be stepping down from her role as executive director, she is currently working with the My State of Mind team on a merchandise line to raise more awareness on the mental health aspect of adult homelessness. Aside from that, a personal project that she is working on is a painting to thank everyone in the US that she’s gotten help from.
We’re beyond excited to see what Macy and her team have in store! Her work in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health is a valuable contribution in line with Edukasyon’s goal of making the future less scary for everyone. Keep tabs on My State of Mind’s merchandise line by following their socials on Facebook and Instagram as well. They also host a podcast on Spotify entitled “Unwind the Mind”.
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