Do you feel like you know who you are?
I feel like I have always known deep down who I am, but it's easy to get distracted by the white noise all around us. The ideas placed on us to be quieter, smaller, more tailored. It's taken me some time to be able to tune out the outside influences, and really tap into myself more and allow that to be the me I present to the world.
What does that feel like?
For me, felling myself is like putting on my favourite, most comfortable outfit, and walking outside, and the warm sun is shining down on my shoulders. Everything feels right, and warm, and comfortable. And while it was something much more internal, deeper, describing it like that … yeah, that is how I would best describe it. Comfortable.
Who are you?
An ever evolving version of myself. I like the idea that I get to continually meet who I am as life goes on. The more we grow, the more chances we have to learn who we are. The second I think I understand myself, or how life is unfolding, I get a good shake by life, and am brought back down to that state of be open to learning more about who I am. And yet despite life changing us, at the core I know that I am a lover of nature and animals, a good friend, and an incredibly sensitive soul trying to navigate living in this world.
What has the journey been so far to connecting to your true self?
It's been joyous, and challenging! It took some courage to come out as non-binary (not feeling 100% male or female), and I watched relationships around me change in doing so, which ended up to be the most rewarding thing. People faded away, a new people grew closer to me. But ultimately, being able to finally be the most authentic version of myself on the outside that I had been feeling on the inside since I was old enough to remember was liberating (and a bit terrifying).
What kinds of things knock you out of alignment to your true self?
I find that I struggle the most when I'm mis-gendered, because it's a reminder that other people perhaps see me in a way that I don't see myself. It takes a good bike ride, or some time with some good music, to bring me back into centre. It's becoming less challenging to get back to that place of being centred, but it does happen.
What kinds of things help you feel more your true self?
Riding my bike, swims in the ocean, wandering walks looking at nature. I often don't realise that I'm feeling "off" and then I'll go for a ride to the sea, and it hits me, I relax and feel like I'm moved back into myself. The last year I've really tried to be more selfish, and focus on allowing myself to enjoy these things that make me happiest, without guilt.
Does your clothing affect how you connect?
Absolutely! When I feel confident in myself, I dress better, and thus present myself better. The way I dress is a reflection of how I'm feeling inside. When I'm wearing clothing that is comfortable and makes me feel good (and hopefully looks good too!), I'm a more outgoing and social person - which opens me up for more interactions with people around me, which can and does shape who I am as a person. Clothing is so much more than just something that keeps you warm, and dry!
About any special items with you in the photo.
I was really excited about this campaign for many reasons, but one of the biggest ones for me was having the ability to choose a location that felt most comfortable for me, which was outside. I picked one of my favourite neighbourhoods (Strathcona) with a few different places in mind. I've always loved the train tracks, and the quaintness of the old homes contrasting with the industrial feel of the area. I've spent many hours riding and walking around the area, and it's a place I feel comfortable and inspired.