Hello, My Name is ________ .

Gazing out over the brilliant open ocean in a bright sundress during a trip to Europe

“I’m a stylist, I style things, it’s who I am!” I exclaimed standing in my parents kitchen one night, in the midst of intense wedding planning. Justin and I were engaged May 7,  and we sent out invites to be married exactly three months later. I had dreamed up a magical, intimate wedding, deep in the woods with close friends and family. We would have a small ceremony on a little trail, guests seated in a circle of live edge log benches, a white flowering arch above us. The reception would be at a sustainable farm overlooking the Pennsylvania countryside, farm-to-table dishes, family style. Guests would be breaking freshly baked bread, sipping on organic wine and picking at charcuterie. Everything was coming together seamlessly after only a month of wedding planning, when we received a contract to book the farm for our reception. Because the farm wasn’t licensed for weddings, we were able to host our dinner there - but it couldn’t reference a wedding in any form. Guests were prohibited to post wedding pictures on social media, wedding wrapping paper on gifts was a no, and I would have to change into a non-wedding cocktail dress after our ceremony.

Posing alongside the ocean while traveling through little cities in Europe and trying new cultures
Perched on a rock in the middle of the sea, Emily poses in a white high-waisted swim suit

My dad felt utterly uncomfortable with us signing the contract, as it could result in a legal case years down the road. I was so set on the beautiful day I had imagined in my mind and with a time crunch of our wedding date drawing nearer and nearer, this unexpected dead end was my breaking point. My parents and Justin told me I had to let go of my plan and start from scratch. Moving back to my hometown after living in NYC and starting a new job - I couldn’t handle another thing that I had to start over. Our conversation that night revealed perfect ideals I was striving to create for our wedding day and my parents encouraged me to take a more relaxed approach… The words fell out my mouth “I’m a stylist, it’s who I am!” To which my dad responded, “No, you are Emily and so much more than a stylist.” His words struck me like a lightning bolt to the heart. It was at that moment I realized I had made my entire identity around what I could do. I had lost any sense of who I was outside of my creative work.

Growing up I had struggled to find my identity and had low self-worth from the painful process of seeking something to be “good at”. When I first tapped into my creative potential through an internship in high school, I thought, “This is it! This is me.” Once realizing that my creative ability was valuable in the world, I clung tightly to it. I found one area that I could do well, so I made it my entire life.

If you’ve ever been in this place, you know it is a thin tightrope to walk on. I felt great. I felt vibrant and happy... IF I was creating beautiful work; IF it was received well and appreciated; IF I outdid my last piece of work. Holy moly, that is a lot of pressure to carry everyday. And beneath all that pressure was a fragile vase. If someone were to reposition it, the ceramic piece would completely crumble. Up to this point in my life I had only experienced bosses and teachers that were thrilled with my work and gave me gold stars, 100% perfection. I learned that if I strived for perfection and rung myself out on each project, everything would work out (even if it came with panic attacks).

It wasn’t until I had a boss that was constantly critiquing my work and discrediting my abilities that I was put in a position of questioning if my worth came from my work. This second instance of challenging my identity pushed me to re-frame how I saw myself.

I started to dig into who I was outside of what I do. Who am I in my essence? Would I still love myself even if everyone rejected me? Where do I find my true self? When am I most free, loving, and happy? How do I get to that place within myself?

As the salty waves pray up and the wind blows, Emily takes in the beautiful scenery in Europe during her travels

This journey led me to self-discovery and learning to nurture my heart and passions. Some call these things ‘self care’ and reserve it to face masks and bubble baths. To me, it is a self awareness, a way of showing up in the world as a whole, not seeking anything to fix or complete you. It is an openness to learn, evolve, and enjoy.

I like to nurture and nourish my spirit through long contemplative walks, an intuitive yoga flow in my bedroom, setting aside time to write, a warm shower with jazz in the background, taking myself on regular trips to a nearby city or booking a flight across the globe. This is where I find my best self.

SelfMolly MartinComment