Leading up to International Women's Day, we have the honour to chat with mum-entrepreneur-baker Rachel Tan on The topic of self-care/love. Being a big advocate of sustainable living and mental wellness, she shares snippets of her life on how she deals with her struggles and insights on what self-love means to her and how all of us can practice it.
What do you love and value about yourself?
I give my best in everything I do and make sure I leave no stone unturned. I am also compassionate towards people and I value this softness in a hard world like ours today.
What do you struggle with and how do you try to address that?
I struggle with giving myself due credit and empathy. I am almost always very hard on myself. It is for this reason that I give my best in everything I sign up for, but it is a double-edged sword as I tend to be very unforgiving towards myself should I not meet my expectations.
I have to consciously take a huge step back and remember that it’s human to err, and to objectively define what ‘good enough’ means. The way I do it is to imagine another woman in my circumstance and send love and light to all that she is and all that she has done given the situation, basically channeling that empathy that I usually have towards others and applying it to myself.
What does self-care/love mean to you?
To create a life that I want to be living (and by living, I mean both working and playing), a life that I don’t feel the need to escape from. This requires me to consciously allow periods of rest, relaxation and creativity in my daily life as part of my productive schedule, as opposed to carving out that rare, special pocket of “downtime” only after checking off the to-do list. Downtime is productive, taking care of myself is essential; these are as important as working hard and should be part of daily life.
Do you make time to do the things you enjoy doing?
I didn’t used to. I would dive head in, be elbow-deep in whatever I thought I had to do, and be entirely lost in it, only coming up for air after I was finished (and usually burnt out). Over the past months, I pencil in the things I enjoy doing as part of my daily routine, choosing to see these activities to be as productive as what work traditionally means to society. I make sure to read everyday, exercise 3-4 times a week, act on moments of inspiration (baking, designing, cooking) instead of putting these things off until I feel like I have the luxury of time. The truth is there will never be enough time, and so we have to be very careful about how we spend it.
How would you like to encourage other women to love themselves?
Putting ourselves first might be counter-intuitive and sometimes even thought of as selfish because we are so used to checking off lists and making sure other people’s needs are met first, but it is paramount to living a happy and productive life. It took me many years to understand this. We are as good as how we feel, and if we don’t take care of ourselves as hard as we work, we are likely to burn the candle at both ends and we will be snuffed out too soon. You are a wonderful human being who deserves to be loved and taken care of, and it all starts with you being good to yourself. I invite you to sit down and chat with people who are big on self-love, the more you talk about it, the more you will see that you are as important as anyone else whose needs you are trying to meet. Also, say no when you really mean no, reserve the yes’s for you and the people who truly matter.