[more images below]
When we strip away all the bullshit, what are we left with? As humans, regardless of how authentically we try to live, we will always build a safety net around us. We all want to look like the best version of ourselves possible. This list of labels we assign ourselves, becomes the facade we hide behind, because knowing ourselves, is one of the more terrifying discoveries we will face. This is our way of trying to give ourselves some sense of who we are & why we’re here…its natural. The descriptive words we use, are a comfortable veil to shield our eyes away from the confusing questions of what our purpose is. And lately, at least for me, that veil no longer is keeping me safe. Comfort, familiarity, distraction —these things, in the wake of quarantine, have been ripped away like a wind storm pulling tree roots from the ground & tossing their remanence, wildly dismembering its' branches. My definition of who I am, is being torn apart, and while it's bringing immense pressure & anxiety, I’m diving deeper into the mysterious abyss within. It's time for me to redefine.
We have all at some point placed definitive “labels"onto ourselves or had others do it for us. Some examples:
mother, wife, sister, father, husband, brother, photographer, writer, artist, CEO, entrepreneur, florist, health coach, survivor, addict, mentally ill, stylist, therapist, acupuncturist, blogger, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, Hindi…
I mean, the list really does go on and on. These words MEAN something, yes. They are important to define what we like, what we believe in, but are they enough to define ALL of who & what we are? When we use words as labels, giving ourselves something to grasp onto, those things can fail us if we don’t get down to the nitty gritty. At least this is true for me, especially now as I breathe in the thick stale air surrounding me during quarantine. I find it hard to sit in my stillness more & more lately, and I ponder why everything feels so heavy. Apart from all the sadness & destruction in the world right now, I cannot blame my discomfort solely on those things. Am I so incredibly uncomfortable with the root of “me” that I cant bear to be with her alone for very long? Am I seeing things within myself that are ugly, that I want to change? Am I running from myself?
Yes, yes, and yes.
So, I look in the mirror [literally] & I ask myself “Who am I?”
Im staring, studying the scars on my face, the lines that are forming in my 32 years, the messy hair thrown into a bun, with grey hairs strewn about, my nail polish crumbling from boredom, my eyes-dark almond shaped slits-starting back at me as if some euphoric answer is just going to jump out & end all of this wonder within me. But nothing happens & Im left with a pit in my stomach where there once was hope of finding myself. The pearl of wisdom, which I thought I would discover, has been buried deeper & I feel like Im sinking with it. I close my tired eyes, take a deep breath in and I hold it. I feel dizzy & I let it out slowly, as if to savor all of the oxygen my brain & body are being fed.
And then the words escaped me & began to flow out like a hose watering a lawn on a hot summer day, quenching my thirst to nourish my roots, planting me stronger into the Earth.
“You are resilient, strong, courageous, motivated, sometimes lazy, fierce & full of fire, honest, sometimes too honest, supportive, nurturing, sometimes neglectful.”
The simplicity started to become more complex as I opened my heart to speak more truth. It was as if someone else was speaking words about me; an out of body experience as I speak to myself in third person:
“You isolate a lot for someone who is an extrovert, you are a sensitive soul who needs to recharge, but you indulge in the suffering of loneliness all too much and you get far too comfortable there. You need a healthy dose of people to connect with & should do this more often.
You are indulgent in positive things and negative things & you never know when enough is enough for either.
You run away from conflict and at the same time you hit it head on; sometimes things get messy because of it, but you almost always act in your truth & that is admirable.
You are a healer, you are a listener, you are a wise soul, you are helpful, loving, thoughtful, and sometimes self-righteous & indignant.
You are a perfectionist to the extent that it debilitates you. You are a procrastinator and its a constant battle for you to find the happy medium between the two.
You are extreme, you feel everything and you sometimes feel nothing, and that terrifies you.
You become so sad sometimes that its hard to control the urge to want to do insane things to just feel something, and yet when you're out of the darkness your enlightenment is other-worldly.
You are creative to your core. You are multi-faceted & multi-talented.
You are self absorbed, but you are selfless. You are generous, but at times, stingy.
You protect yourself and the people you love fiercely, sometimes that means you bite people who didn’t intend to hurt you & you can be mean and defensive when you feel manipulated, but you also have a deep intuition when people are trying to take advantage of you--something you have ignored for so long that you are still trying to fine tune when its' speaking.
You have a story that will help people heal, because you have done the work to heal, but you are gripped with fear of exposing yourself. You are tireless in your search for healing, you are meant to be a guide, but you’re also forceful and you are not for everyone. You are learning to be invited into peoples bubbles & knowing when your impact is correct for them & you. And thats hard and it hurts you deeply, but it will be the way that you save your energy for those who are ready for you.
You are impatient with your path in this life, it takes away your peace. You are a bit off the rails sometimes, you are deeply passionate, and when that all becomes too much, you tear yourself away into complete numbness and float through life on auto-pilot.
You fear losing people so deeply that it makes you pull away, sometimes abruptly. That same fear leads you to love them even deeper. You love life even through the struggle, you once hated life and wanted to die.
You are full of hope even amidst the anxiety of the future, you have a hard time keeping it in the moment, but that only causes you to strengthen your abilities to be present, because you are very aware of yourself.
You are a dreamer & a do-er. Someone who says they want to do something and at any cost, do it. Sometimes this hurts people because you can see your next move so clearly and you don't let anyone step in that way of it. But you tend to be an escape artist who wants out pre-maturely at times. You will miss the lessons & the work if you continue to do that. Stay for a while, revel in the madness of things not always going your way. Your appetite for adventure & variety is beautiful, but look inward for the difference between impulsivity & spontaneity.
You are wind, water, fire & earth. You are all of it. You are the dichotomy of all that is wonderful and terrible. You are the storm, the rainbow & the birds--chirping in celebration of life. You are the grit of sand, the smoothness of water mixed with the sting of a salty sea. You are beautifully flawed, with every extreme and all that is in between. And you have permission, to be all of those things at the same time; to be powerful. You do not have to cower from the trueness of who you are any longer. Allow yourself to be a force & embrace the beauty that can come from even the ugliness."
And for the first time in what feels like eons, I can breathe fully.
I can sit with myself.
I am...at peace.
I can sit with myself.
I am...at peace.
All photos taken by Hannah Morrissey
All editing & double exposures by yours truly @thewildauthenticphoto