A year ago today my life was completely different. A year ago today everything I knew was about to change.
Let me start from the beginning…
It was the summer of 2015, monday morning. NYC was hotter than ever, the vile smell of trash and washed out piss lingered around every corner of every street of the East Village. The rats were far gone, searching for the last fragment of cold surface underground. The 2nd Ave station was packed of sweaty commuters and irritating tourists with their fanny packs and selfie sticks on hand, all cramped together in the unbearable heat, like stuck in a giant hairdryer. It was gross to say the least, but I didn’t care, it was all worth it, I lived in the coolest city on earth.
I was a fashion photographer then, chasing the glitz and glamour NYC lifestyle that lures all of us in, driven by nothing but ego. I caught the F train uptown and almost had an orgasm when the cool AC breeze touched me. I got off 34th street and rushed through the crowd walking at the speed of light (like most people around me) trying my best not to sweat as I didn’t want to get to the studio looking like a sweaty common mortal (that wouldn’t have been considered cool for my fashion crew you know!). Four hours later I was on yet another lookbook set shooting pictures of a 16 years old model that we’d later sell to the public as a 25 years old woman. We were on schedule, everything was going well, when suddenly, without any warning or sign, I got hit by the strongest, most unexpected and painful slap on my face of my life (figuratively!): “WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?” a voice within me screamed so loud I jumped “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?” . I looked around that set, stared at that teenage girl in front of me trying to make sense of it but from that moment on something switched in my head and nothing about my job made sense anymore. That shiny, glittery world I was chasing for the last few years now just looked like shit…quite literally!
I went home that day completely lost in my thoughts. I kept recalling conversations with my girlfriends about how un-perfect we were, ” My face is so asymmetrical, my nose so curved, my eyes too small, my hair too dull, my chest too flat, my legs too big, my ass too fat”. Flashbacks of my dancing years spent in front of a mirror, dieting constantly to get that solo came back to me. Persistent thoughts of needing a nose job now seemed just a cruel joke. A million questions popped in my head: “When did we start feeling we aren’t good enough the way we are? Why none of us feels beautiful enough? Who is in title of dictating what beauty looks like for all of us and why are we allowing that? And What the fuck is beauty in the first place???” I was so absorbed into my mind that I smashed into the glass door of my building dropping my bag on the floor.
That last question though, kept harassing me for the whole week : “WHAT IS BEAUTY?” I kept thinking and rethinking about it. I felt uncomfortable, unsettled, restless, tormented. On Friday I bought a bottle of wine a Trader Joes, locked myself in my room, sit at my desk and started writing, that’s how I usually understand what I’m feeling. I drank half that bottle hoping the wine would bring to surface what I was too scared too bring up myself. I wrote and wrote and wrote and finally I felt it coming, a tiny weak and scared voice from the deepest of my soul said “I don’t want to be part of this anymore”. I stopped writing and I slowly sat on the floor in total disbelieve.
My whole world collapse on itself once more, like when I quit dancing. I had been chasing the dream of becoming a famous fashion photographer for the last 3 years, giving it all of my time, all of myself, ending friendships, burning bridges, doing whatever it took. And now I didn’t want any of that anymore. I didn’t want to keep feeding a monster. I didn’t want me and my friends to feel we weren’t good enough anymore. I didn’t want to hurt anyone ever again. I felt sucked out of a weird dream, like I had been sleepwalking through life, hypnotized by a lie, tricked by an illusion. But I was awake now!
Great! The cat was out of the bag but now I had no idea what I was going to do with myself. My ego implored me to keep doing what I was doing, “it’s decent money and it’s COOL!” the little green motherfucker told me. But then something else in me, my essence i guess, whispered “You can do much better things with your life, useful things, helpful things”. I was torn between the two. I didn’t know what to do. I almost had a panic attack. In tears I bagged the universe for an answer as if my life depended on it. I waited what seemed to be a million years and then, gently, from the bottom of my heart—or it might have been from the bottom of the bottle!😂 — that same tiny voice, this time just a tiny bit stronger came back up and said: “Go. Change things. Find Beauty. ”
I think it comes a point in life when one has to accept his/her own truth and start living by it. The only other alternative is to kill our own essence by disregarding that truth and slowly becoming zombie like creatures existing through life instead of living it the way it was meant for us. My truth was that I wasn’t ever meant to be COOL. I was meant to be me. I was meant to be an artist. I was meant to create work that brings joy to people, not work that killed their self esteem. I was meant to be a good person.
There’s a beautiful Walt Whitman’s quote that says “Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul.” That night I wrote that quote on a post-it and stared at it for a long time until I let go of everything and fell asleep.
I woke up the next day, hangover af, with that posti-it still in my hands. Headache aside though, I felt new life running through my veins. I knew what I needed to do. I found my truth. I needed to go see the world, alone, and photograph and talk to as many women I could.
I had to go on a quest…a Quest for Beauty!
A month later I was on a plane to Italy. it was October 18th and, I left the fashion world behind me for the real one. The next day I’d be in the Alps shooting the first portrait for my project. Everything felt right. I was finally living my truth, I was flying towards my destiny.