I’ve debated whether or not I wanted to post this, but here it goes. (*Trigger Warning* if you aren't comfortable with mental health topics this isn't a post to read).
This is me, 10 years ago at age 16. My 16th year happens to be the one and only year where there is more than one picture of me, because it was the year I fell in love with photography. I have more pictures of myself in this year alone than I do the next 9 years combined. They are mostly partial lit, have half my face or maybe nothing of my physical body at all and instead a picture of something I deeply loved. But they all were photos that I took. Photos that represent who I was at that time, how I saw things and what I felt comfortable with showing. No more, no less.
There are many internal struggles about this period in my life that are not only hard for me to look back on, but especially uncomfortable for me to share. My eating disorders, my depression, my anger, my addictions. Most days back then were ruled by some combination of these and I did everything I could to keep it all to myself throughout the years. My images and writing were how I talked about things without having to talk about them. These were the ways I could express what I couldn't in person-to-person interactions and while I'm glad to have moved past a lot of the struggles of that time, I appreciate how clearly I was able to express them through these outlets.
I've felt a lot of shame over these things over the years and frankly, 26 year old me is tired of it. I'm thankful that I found some way through, even if it was messy, and I feel it was necessary for me to get where I am today. I'm grateful to say that 26 year old me is no longer ruled by those terms and conditions. Though, depression, anxiety I have been in quite the three-way arm wrestle this year, I'm learning to my own ways to manage them and work through them more effectively. They are by far the forces I’ve had the hardest time negotiating with and adapting to, but they continuously lead me to search for deeper understandings of myself and others.
I still have a lot of work to do, I'm not where I would like to be just yet but that’s ok. I honestly didn't think I'd get past 21 and in some ways I didn't, but that's a different story. The main difference between who I am now and who I was then is that I know that I am truly capable of whatever it takes to become whoever it is I choose to be. The limitations other put on to you are irrelevant, and I’m so grateful to have finally learned that.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m proud that despite all the reasons not to, I have chosen time and time again to keep going. While I'm still in this wild ride of trying to find ways to support myself doing what I love and living a life I feel aligned with, I'm on the path and not turing back any time soon. Here's to another decade of seeking.
My two best friends to this day, Jess and Logan. I'm not the best at expressing it sometimes, but the both of you mean more to me that I could put in to words.
And in memory of my dearly missed companions, Jesse and Estelle.
Rest in Peace together.