This project feels the closest to me yet. I wanted to share how I got here. When I first moved to Austin, I went through things I never expected or wanted to experience; I felt negative emotions I didn’t know existed. I didn’t know anybody here and my family was struggling with the same situation. I felt alone and trapped and the question that I wanted answers to was “why?” I wanted to say so much but instead I made a blank page my friend. I typed every word and unknowingly let the healing begin. For 6 months I wrote and wrote until the question of “why” became, “what now?” I had lost myself and felt like every purpose I thought to live out was no longer an option. I regretted every moment I wanted solitude at that time because I didn’t think I was strong enough alone. I was angry at God and wondered how I’d felt like a failure when I was failed. I didn’t think I deserved a dream even when I did my very best. I was mad for the words I kept buried in my heart, unspoken, as the rage fermented deep within. I remembered the simplicity of my childhood and how so easily I believed that everything would indeed be alright. Still, the dark cloud hovering over me now was blocking the light. But the child I once was, was always a fighter. I knew then; as I reflected on this little girl I used to be; that I was broken, damaged, hurt, scarred and alone. I was all those things but all were made obsolete when one word hit me; I was a survivor. I was alive. I had let every dream behind and let that little girl down, afraid to fail; afraid that every skeptic would be proven correct. This felt like a clean slate, where I was allowed to screw up, where the vision became bigger than the risks. This is what childlike faith felt like. This was taking leaps not knowing where I might land because being free was worth leaving fear behind. In the brokenness I learned to fight for myself. In feeling the blow of hate, I found the recovery in love. When self hate sunk me deeper in, love crept in when I couldn’t find it in me. When I lost hope and courage, faith and grace defined me. When I was aware of darkness, I discovered the urgency for light.
This written work is what inspired this photoshoot and I hope the gallery means as much to you as it does to me. Much love,
Photographer: Aaron Schaeper
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***Photos available for print upon request