Hello, My Name is ________ .
“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.
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?
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.