Pinal-Alfaro: Diane Guerrero teaches self-care

Actress Diane Guerrero, best known for her work on the hit Netflix series “Orange Is The New Black”, shared words of wisdom with the Case Western Reserve University community on Saturday, Sept. 23. Under the ornate ceiling of the Maltz Performing Arts Center, Guerrero spoke to the crowdcomprised mostly of Case Western Reserve University studentsabout her childhood experiences, her eventual involvement with “Orange is the New Black”, and the challenges that she overcame to reach the level of success that she now enjoys. One of the topics that Guerrero elaborated on during her hour-long conversation with students was the importance of self-care.

Guerrero elaborated on the topic of self-care by drawing examples of times that she failed to care for herself during her college career. Though she succeeded academically at Regis College,  Guerrero stated that she did not find the work that she was completing after college as self-fulfilling. Following her passion for the performing arts, she moved to New York City to pursue her acting career. After landing a role on “Orange is the New Black”, Guerrero’s career took to new heights. The message that Guerrero relayed through her personal anecdote is a simple, yet often forgotten one: follow your dreams, and remember to take care of yourself as you go along.

Like many students, I have failed  to attain the type of sustainable work-life balance that Guerrero encouraged students to strive towards. Countless times I have had to work into the early hours of the morning to complete an assignment, study for an exam or prepare a presentation. I have skipped meals, family events and opportunities to hang out with friends due to my overwhelming belief that success in school should be prioritized over my own health.

Unfortunately, my experience is not unique among most students at CWRU.

As students attending an academically rigorous institution, many of us often prioritize school work over our own well-being  Does performing well in college require us to work diligently and manage our time well? Yes. Does that mean that we should pursue academic success at the expense of our physical, mental and emotional health? Absolutely not. I sincerely believe that maintaining a work-life balance will enable us to be our best selves, both in the classroom and outside of it.

With the fall semester in full swing and mid-term examinations on the horizon, it is imperative that we seek to make our well-being a priority so as to better perform our responsibilities and live a fulfilling life. I encourage students to maintain regular sleep schedules, eat regular meals and perform some physical activity each day.

Moreover, I find it beneficial for us to cultivate rich social lives. Additionally, we should remember that there are professionals on campus to help if we are seeking any form of physical, mental or emotional counseling. University Health and Counseling Services are available if someone needs help. As easy as it is to forget to care about ourselves amidst the daily grind, we must remember that we can be our best selves by listening to the needs of our body and responding accordingly.

Building a positive relationship with ourselves is key to succeeding in the future. While our time in school may be limited, our personal wellness is permanent. Take care of yourself, work hard and the rest will follow.

Yoshmar Pinal-Alfaro is a first-year biomedical engineering student. When not procrastinating on his SAGES homework, he can be found running in very short shorts.