• Jacinth Jones

Coping with COVID: Self-Love in a Panoramic

OXON HILL, Md. - As with most events in 2020, Valentine’s Day will be (should be) spent at home. While the holiday is known for chocolates, roses and an extra dose of love and appreciation for partners or significant others, some relationships never found their way to the romanticized day or even month.


Was the pandemic to blame? For those who quarantined together, found ways to keep the spark alive while social distancing, or just plainly called it quits, COSMiC is taking a look at another relationship that may have been affected by the pandemic - the relationship with yourself.


“I went through all of the emotions last year. I found out many things about myself. I really had to find the inner motivation to keep going. I couldn't really rely on others to do that for me because we're all in the same boat,” said 21-year-old dancer Jazmine Escobar.


Many have spent an obnoxious amount of time in isolation but for Escobar, it allowed for self-introspection and discovering how to maintain self-love through self-care as the challenges of the pandemic became a never-ending reality.


“I'm not the type of person to sit around all day but I had to remind myself this was beyond my control. I was doing certain things to keep myself moving but I felt like I wasn’t doing enough,” expressed Escobar.


The oldest of four feels fulfilled when she’s productive. But like the world, that came to a halt last March.


“One day I just started crying. I was overwhelmed. I felt like I hadn't progressed and was stagnant,” Escobar said. “But I realized feeling like you have to be productive and busy all the time to reach some sort of success is kind of toxic. You're rushing yourself and missing the point of being present. It's okay to be still and not feel like you have to be doing more. ”


Like SZA said "half of us chasin' fountains of youth and it's in the present."


“It was a big wake up call for me because l had to tell myself "Jaz, you're still bomb." I allowed myself to be sad and unmotivated but then I picked myself up and got the ball rolling. I was like enough of the tears.. let's get myself together,” she said.

Credit: Mikael Selassie

A self-proclaimed social butterfly, Escobar said while she missed feeling the energy from and connecting with others, she now had time to delve into what made her feel full rather than relying on others for emotional dependency.


“I can't really pour into others if I'm not pouring into myself first. That means taking a break from being that social butterfly and spending time with and pouring into myself. I definitely got into meditating, took a social media break and dug deeper into reading and writing. Journaling was a really big release. Some people downplay writing but you need to get a journal and a pen and just write shit out,” Escobar shared.


Earlier in the pandemic, dance pop-up classes were cancelled, workshops turned virtual, in-person auditions were halted indefinitely and studios were shuttered. With lax social distancing requirements, things are starting to slowly open with limited capacity and safety precautions in place.


One of those things is “Unafraid to be Women” (UATBW). Escobar and her two-year-old brand found new ways to maneuver through the virus (while adhering to COVID safety guidelines) while encouraging women to “unapologetically discover their light and live in their purposes.”


The dance and seminar class is a safe space for women to relax, relate and release. The class is designed for intimacy and has a couple of messages Escobar uses to empower and remind women to not downplay their magic for anyone.

Credit: Mikael Selassie

One - women are the blueprint.


“Without us, the world would not go ‘round. Period. That statement truly stems from me coming from a group of strong women,” Escobar said. “My mother and grandmother are amazing. And I have amazing aunts and cousins so I'm privileged to come from a strong foundation.”


Two - women are divine.


“I like to remind women who come to my class they are full of love. They are full of light. They are divine. They are strong. They are free and they can do anything. Everything you want to be is already within you; you just have to unlock it,” exclaimed Escobar.


At each seminar, she has attendees recite the UATBW mantra, “I am unafraid to fail. I am unafraid to be imperfect. I am unafraid to go through challenges. I am unafraid to be woman.” But Escobar said she first had to internalize the messages she conveys before spreading to others. She cites dance as a contributor and guide to this.


“Dance is a huge confidence booster. When I'm on stage dancing, taking classes or teaching, I'm able to put myself on a pedestal. With life, you have to put yourself on a pedestal because you can't wait for anyone else to do it,” Escobar shared.


“You have to be your number one supporter. Your number one motivator. Because if you have that, then who’s gonna stop you? Nobody. Dancing plays a huge role in who I am. And it has opened many doors and has connected me to a lot of different things and people,” she continued.


Dance has given Escobar a number of different life lessons and has trained her physically and mentally. She started at the age of four in a dance studio and soon joined her elementary and middle school dance team in addition to her high school's dance department. Escobar also had brief stints with a couple of dance companies in the DMV area.


“This is really what I'm supposed to be doing. I've never had a doubt in my mind. It's kind of hard being in the performing arts lane because there is no guarantee with anything. But as long as I stay patient, I know great things will come to fruition,” she said.


To Escobar, dance is a part of her self-love journey which she defines as pouring into herself being real with herself, choosing herself and showing up for herself always in all ways.

Credit: Mikael Selassie

“It’s truly a never-ending journey and that’s what makes it special. I’m never ashamed to state I'm forever growing, learning more about myself, or forever accepting that I'm not perfect."

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