In following words I’d like to highlight my experiences with mental health, employment and other struggles/feats during these turbulent times. But more importantly, I would like to start this blog post off by recognising that it’s July 31st: my fiancé’s birthday.
This is my fiancé, Cody. In our almost two years together, we’ve learned almost too much about each other.
Some of these things include:
- Feeling a passionate responsibility to tell the stories that make us who we are.
- Being in love with the botany of life. We collect insects, plants, moss and everything in between– and we truly believe that these things makes us who we are as human beings.
- We have experienced life in a way that may not be typical of folks our age.
- Empathy is our way of life.
We’re blessed to be housed, fed and content with our lives.
In the middle of a world-changing pandemic we found ourselves in a strange dichotomy– between joblessness, job offers, and existential crisis in a whole new way. This is the story of how I got here. A place where I’m employed in a challenging, empathetic and productive environment.
As well– how we’re all housed in a place of constant contemplation and uncertainty.
I have to admit. I was half expecting to start writing my first autobiography during this time [the pandemic].
If you don’t already know who I am– or what I’ve been through, the one thing can confidently say is “I’ve seen some sh*%t”.
To condense some of my experiences– I grew up without a lot of the ‘normal’ things most people grew up with. A father, a source of income, a healthy guardian.
My mother is a survivor of abuse, poverty, and immigration. And with all of these things my mother never allowed her children to believe they were different from other children. She told us we could become anything we wanted– and that money would never prevent us from achieving our dreams. And all this, I believe is half true.
While myself and my three siblings are functioning adults, we still lack something that is common among most people. A sense of consistency and a sense of home.
And while monetary comfort is not the most important thing in life, it does allow the ‘survival’ portion of our instincts to be less active for a while. That is something my siblings and I still struggle to understand. How to feel like we’re not merely just surviving but actually living to our heart’s potential. Even while making enough money to be content.
My dreams have always shifted because of the struggles I’ve felt to truly live without worrying about survival. In in this context, truly living means fulfilling the desires that are in my heart. Which, in one way or another, has always been to create beauty.
My professional career began when I began working for the Screen Production Yukon Association in 2015. It was something I thought I’d be doing for the rest of forever. I felt fulfilled, challenged and artistically satisfied. I had, in the same year begun to exhibit, sell and promote my own art practice.
In the span of two years [2014-2016], I managed to escape a heavily bruising relationship with an expat . This changed my life dramatically and I am still dealing with the residual trauma.
The picture above symbolizes my life in the Yukon. A serene gaze upon the land I loved and upon closer inspection you can see a bruise on my right cheekbone. This is something I’ve felt throughout my life: a sense of beauty, with a sense of constant healing.
There is so much more I can write about the incredibly tough experiences I faced in the Yukon but I plan on writing about those in another format at a later time.
My Brief History of Brooklyn
You may know that upon my leaving the Yukon I spent a while in Brooklyn, New York. My time there greatly impacted my confidence as an artist. I started my own business called “Under the Apocalypse” in which I survived off of the income I produced selling handmade occult crafts.
So what does this all have to do with right now?
Well, I’m happy to explain my circumstances have improved to a point beyond my own expectations.
For the first time in my life I’m employed in a space where I was comfortable and able to say “I need to take a day off because I’ve seen some sh*%t”.
I am currently professionally employed as a designer. A job I find incredibly interesting, challenging and rewarding.
Much to my dismay, I was left unemployed at the beginning of the pandemic. Stressed and anxious, I took an offer of employment from a small, quirky company called Two Story Robot. If this whole blog has to come down to one theme, it’s this:
Where you work– and what kind of work your do– can have an incredible impact on the way you see yourself and the world. It has the ability to uplift and inspire your way of living. I feel supported, respected and appreciated in a way I didn’t know was possible in the world of employment.
So while I sit here contemplating how I can turn these thoughts into something truly meaningful, I am reminded that empathy can drive drastic and meaningful change. If there is a lesson to be learned from any of these words or experiences it’s that not only does empathy inspire positive social change, but it also inspires excellence in work.
I want to continue to articulate the impact my experiences have had on me and how I hope to inspire empathy in others. For now, I will end this long list of words with art that has been made as a result of the empathy that has been shown to me. Through employers, friends, and strangers.