THE GLORY + PAIN THAT COMES WITH TAPPING INTO YOUR PURPOSE
A 60-inch light source illuminates the eight pounds of confetti in the middle of a 2,000 square foot room. Humans of all shapes, sizes, colors, dispositions and vibes walk through, transforming within seconds in front of my eyes every single time. The first person to be photographed was a TimeOut Editor who filmed me on their Instagram Stories. We were sold-out. Hundreds of others walked by and played with the public installation part of pop-up that week. We were in-demand. Tears, anger, joy, melancholy, and relief emitted and released amidst the thousands of particles of confetti, creating a tornado of raw expression. Every slot was full and then some. I was on top of the world. A nearby bakery even sent me a dozen glittery cupcakes with unicorns on them when they heard about what I was doing. Friends and strangers were feeding me all week amidst the flurry of only photographing, commuting and sleeping for seven days straight. I gained 1,000+ followers on Instagram. A dozen of my supportive sisters volunteered in shifts. The profits exceeded a few thousand dollars. Most importantly, for the first time in my life I felt like I was perfectly engulfed in a universe where I was in complete alignment with what my purpose is here. I’d tapped into fragments of it prior to this moment but now, I was on fire and living in a world that I had created. But freeze. Even though this highlight reel really happened, it’s ultimately a lot of smoke & mirrors because sometimes when things looks really good on paper, they can be completely falling apart in front of you, vis a vis.
It’s always easy to glorify the snapshots in time that everyone else sees. But, the reality is that on a daily basis, we are all faced with twists, turns, surprises, challenges and tests amidst the gradualness of whatever we’re trying to do. My own reality check of what this has looked like for me is a formula that was never to be expected and can’t necessarily be repeated: 200+ stories, 3 studios, 999 moments of self-doubt, $13K worth of equipment, 6 opportunities of learning the hard way and infinity grief after losing my father. All anyone can ever do is have a degree of equanimity to whatever life throws at you, where you react the same way when something “good” or “bad” happens - cherishing both equally. The older I get, the more I notice how my moments of glory are typically followed by double the pain. And debuting a milestone week-long October pop-up in Soho proved to be no exception. So my isolation begun, both mentally and physically, where I needed the space to shamelessly avoid, distract, wallow to ultimately learn and come back. Even as I write these words, I’m still healing.
It all began with my tendency to over-promise. What can I say? I’m extremely passionate and get really excited in the moment. I want to make people happy and cater to the impossible. So when I graduated from being a push-over two years ago, I still couldn’t kick the habit of putting myself in suffocating situations. So what did I do? I told everyone that participated in the pop-up that their photos would be done in a week. To give a little perspective: that’s uploading 10K photos, curating 7K+ photos, editing 1K photos and releasing them right after finishing the actual pop-up. At that point, I was breaking out into hives on a daily basis. In front of the computer for 8 hours a day, post-producing away. All while I was getting correspondence asking for photos or requesting for more throughout the entire process. It was a visceral lose-lose and I was in a black hole trying to churn out a hopeless amount of work. There had also been a miscommunication about what type of revenue split there would be. I began to spiral down this hole further, feeling hurt - all while having 60 hours more of invisible work to do that was the actual finish line between me and this pop-up concluding. So yes: I couldn’t even enjoy any of my triumphs with how many lessons I was learning at the same time the hard way.
But, if you take anything away for this: it’s that there’s always a lesson and it’s our responsibility to discover it, especially during struggle so that it doesn’t follow you wherever you go moving forward. As Quincy Jones once said: you have to hope you can make all the mistakes you can so you learn. If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn a thing. So, I made a literal list of things I learned. I LLC’d The Confetti Project at the Ace Hotel on a rainy weeknight as I wore my all-red outfit, sitting next to one of my best friends incorporating her own company. A dear friend and the first person who ever paid for a confetti shoot became an organic partner to begin to grow this world I’ve begun to create. Days later, I hopped on a plain to my home-away-from-home: LA. With my nose pressed up to the window for the past half an hour, I begin to write stream-of-consciousness: do not forget this moment. You are brushing up right above the hazy clouds above the Rockies. You have just finished The Four Agreements and are looking at a rainbow on the brim of the plane wing going 416 mph. You are sitting next to a former South African who left during the Apartheid and takes twenty minute stretching breaks in the back. Next to him is an Orange County boy, hungover and friendly after his first time in New York. You are in a moving box that beautifully reminds you that collisions into Mother Earth are always possible. You want to run into the dissipating fog as you bounce to the beat amidst turbulence. You palms are sweating. Remember this moment when you’re in chaos.
A week later, I’m on a mountain deep in a 8-mile hike with my god sister, her husband and their nine-month old baby. It was the perfect interruption to my S.A.D. that always instantly comes when it drops below 40 degrees. My tendencies: over-sleeping, under-believing, emotionally-eating, anti-social smoking. Some people call it depression while others call it being lazy. Or at least that’s what my parents did. For me, it’s probably a mix of both. So when the sky began to coalesce in different shades of warm hues as we descended down the mountain, I began to smile to myself. This baby I was with, straddled in a fancy hiking carrier, has only been alive for nine months yet was this beautiful cluster of matter: crying, humming, screaming, giggling, smiling and ultimately passing out on her very first hike. She was already was acquainted with how to exist, moment-by-present-moment. So, I decided to have a conversation with the universe the next day. Outside, in an open space with my arms wide open, surrounded by trees and big buildings, telling the world that I’m ready. I'm ready to dye my hair pastel blue. I'm ready to shed pounds of anxiety and misguided padding. I'm ready to finish my first novel. I'm ready to stop hiding after something wonderful happens. To ready to manifest my most enhanced state. I'm ready to exist in my wildest dreams every single second while I’m here.