A COMMUNAL EXPERIMENT IN SELF CURATION

a Soul Project

// part of a soul project

 // SHOT ON 35MM BY  TIEN AUSTIN

// SHOT ON 35MM BY TIEN AUSTIN

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be whole, to be “ready.” I’ve spent the majority of these 29 years under the spell where we pressure ourselves to be flawless, to reach for perfection and hold similar expectations for those around us. Its a dangerous game to play with your psyche, one where we often lose ourselves down rabbit holes of self-loathing, bitterness and fear.

Because that’s what we often do with such high expectations of ourselves: we fear or hate what we may not measure up to, and so we may never try or may not embrace vulnerable states of being. Some expectations are family forged or culture driven, and often these trappings can be the most insidious whispers to banish — they tell you you’re not capable, not pretty enough, not feminine or masculine enough, not worthy of respect or tenderness or being heard. The sustained experiences of these pressures build up traumas for us over time and at some point we’re no longer functioning with freedom to be whoever we inherently are, try on new skin, and most certainly we’re not supposed to exercise our inner child! I call bullshit. My inner child is alive and loves to run, clamber up trees, paint her face and arms and create worlds with characters that paint it all with color.

It’s a huge endeavor to kindle or rekindle access to your whole self. There’s no single correct route to take. You can only care—for yourself, for your effect on others—and put that care into action. There is imperfection in all perfection, and perfection in all imperfection... so perhaps we can loosen our grip on these expectations, which by “adulthood” we’ve learned to self-impose, and perhaps with a loosened grip we can let some slip and shed away.

I’ve been in the process of shedding some self-loathing for my face for some years now. I know at some point a self-perception like that can become dysmorphic, which I believe in my thick makeup application days I had a bad case of, and that journey is a story for another time. Today, I work on loving even the pictures of me that my psyche tries to tell me are imperfect. I call bullshit.