A Redemptive Story of Brokeness To Brilliance

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Today I’m sharing my story: how I went from brokenness to brilliance. Was there a time in your life where you felt less than the empowered, connected woman you were created to be? My experiences can relate.

My wish is to help you put words to your own beauty from the ashes story. Please never hesitate to send me a personal message if you are currently going through a season of self-doubt and need a hand to hold.

Growing up I experienced a great deal of brokenness due to denying my god-given essence. As a young girl, I would strive to get better in the areas I saw my friends and my older sister achieve in. I had a chain of perfection pulling me towards the honor roll, varsity field hockey team, and university acceptance letters. I tried to replicate my friends successes which led me to pick up activities like playing clarinet and joining the soccer team, both of which were totally not me and only lasted a few months. In my teens, after trying everything that ‘worked’ for the people I was surrounded with, the failures and incompetence I felt led me to the conclusion that I wasn’t good at anything at all. I felt completely useless in the world.

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I tear up writing this because I can literally feel the emptiness and pain I felt at that time overwhelm my soul. I wish I could pick up my impressionable, lost, confused teenage self and tell her she was looking in all the wrong places to find herself.

I ended up deep in an eating disorder, completely devaluing my body from the inside out. I saw five different counselors throughout high school and a countless amount of doctors and nutritionists - all trying to solve a problem that only I could heal myself from. I was clinically ‘diagnosed’ with anorexia, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. There was of course a medication for each of the listed conditions. For anorexia, I had to see a nutritionist who prescribed me to eat 7 times a day, including two desserts and one high calorie beverage supplement. I had specific requirements for each of my meals which my perfectionist self had no problem hitting on the dot every single time. For depression and anxiety, I was given pills which I took for a few months. Then, for one of the first times, I sense an inner consciousness telling me that the pills were a band-aid covering a larger issue. I stopped taking them. When diagnosed with ADHD, medication was discussed but when the psychologist asked about my grades, distinguished honors seemed to say that there was no problem after all.

The crazy thing is, most of my friends have no idea that I had these diagnosis and even my husband was shocked when I shared this story.

So how did I end up on this other side where I feel bursting with energy every morning, flowing with love and passion for life and my work? I find purpose daily through living out my inner brilliance.

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This process of tapping into my brilliance started with surrendering my ideas of perfection and dismantling the belief that certain skills were more valuable than others. I had to believe that I was created for a specific purpose that only I could fulfill. I had to recognize that my interests actually were directly correlated to my natural gifts and abilities. I had to remind myself constantly that my artistic eye and creativity had just as much a place in this world as a logical, systems-based brain. I learned that some people are wired for order, some for abundance, and some for beauty.

Finding your inner brilliance takes time, patience, grace, and a completely honest, everyday work in progress. It’s a beautiful discovery that you will keep uncovering for the rest of your life.

First, you have to rewire your brain to disconnect from the critic within you.  The critic might say things like, “You’ll never be as good as her,” “You’ll probably fail at this too,” “That’s a dumb idea,” “What makes you think you’re so special?” These thoughts are not you, but will come up from time to time, especially when you start diving into deep soul work. The important part is to identify those thoughts as lies, and let them go. I once heard someone describe this critic as an annoying telemarketer who interrupts you with a phone call; you simply say “Hi, I’m not interested in what you have to offer, thank you,” hang up the phone and move on with your day.

The second piece is finding what is truly, wholeheartedly, and sincerely you. What makes you shine from the inside out and feels like the energy flows from your bones? One of the first times I experienced this was in a dance class. I had tried various sports, and ended up playing field hockey all through middle and high school. It wasn’t until my 11th year of school that I took my first dance class and it suddenly clicked - ‘I was created for this!’ I was an ok field hockey player, but dance came so naturally even with starting later in life than most dedicated dancers. I found field hockey to be a stress-inducer, whereas dance was a stress-reliever. I decided that year to not join the hockey team and picked up four dance classes a week instead. I loved learning dance technique. The choreography was something I could feel and connected with my whole being from my head to my heart, even if sometimes I messed up.

Another time I struck a chord of brilliance within myself was through my senior year art class. My schedule began each day in the art room where I would explore painting with watercolors, adding in mixed mediums like newspaper, and intentionally splashing my paintbrush across the paper to represent freedom from perfectionism. This was also at the time when I learned to love starting my day with a warm cup of coffee and a hearty creativity session. Hearing that others loved my paintings and could sense the freedom and beauty that was cultivating in my heart when they looked at it was incredibly rewarding to me and began to rebuild my burnt down self-worth.

Moving onto career, I knew I needed to work in a creative field to thrive. I sought out an opportunity to intern at a photography studio as a stylist. This really hit my brilliance-meter at a 10. I was able to use my desire for captivating aesthetic and capturing beauty in an environment where it was celebrated and not depreciated. From my experience there and a personal connection, I was offered a job in fashion styling for American Eagle in NYC. I had a side business as a photographer throughout my career and when I decided to move back home, a company who followed me on Instagram sent me a job offer the day I left NYC.

In my earlier years, I thought my interests were ‘weird’, didn’t fit into a pretty box, and definitely would never fit into the world’s puzzle. I thought I had to change, strive, starve myself and then someday I would finally fit. I thought I had to look at the options - other’s successes - and just pick one.

That didn’t work for me, and if you have ever been in that place or maybe find yourself there now, you’ll probably find it is disappointing, unsatisfying, and confusing. Why does nothing seem to work for me?

If you feel like you’re stuck in comparison, worn down, or lost in the world, know that I have been in the depths of that dark ocean. But the more you explore your divine abilities, you’ll start floating to the top. The light will begin guiding your path and you’ll be able to come up for breaths of fresh air as you skim the surface. You still have to swim daily, but now you can see which direction to swim in and find oxygen to access whenever you are out of breath. It feels much lighter, knowing that your work has purpose and rewarding when you see how it lifts up those around you.

Take one step at a time - letting go of the thoughts that hinder you, trying new things or going back to a long lost love, tapping into your intuition to see what is right for you and what is not. You have limitless potential and I’m cheering you on each step you take!

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SelfEmily R HessComment