Who are you and what do you do? Tell me about how you ended up there.
I am 23 and I have lived in Rhode Island, Argentina, Peru, Southern California and Utah. I have traveled to six continents and over 20 different countries. I guess that I ‘do’ or rather, have ‘done’ a lot of different things. I have been a lifeguard, a windsurfing instructor and camp counselor, a Project Manager for a nonprofit, a bartender, ski instructor, barista, dog walker, waitress and beverage cart driver, as well as an unpaid intern and an overpaid helper. But what am I really? I suppose that what I ‘am’ is merely the sum of my experiences, and what I ‘do’ is tell stories and write about them. I consider myself a writer, although I have always had a love of film. I’m starting grad school in the fall to earn a MFA in Screenwriting, and then I will see where that takes me.
Often we can only understand in retrospect how the dots in our path connected. Looking backward, can you talk about a time you failed or you were struggling? What did you think it meant at the time and what do you think it means now? Was there a silver lining, or did it influence your path forward unexpectedly?
Hindsight is always 20/20, which is the irony of the human condition, so to speak. There have been so many times that I have struggled and even failed, and I’ve sought different means of salvation in many different contexts. I think that no form of salvation is universal or permanent, and that closure is a lie we tell ourselves in order create distance from our problems. Catharsis, on the other hand, is absolutely real and it’s something I have alternately found in activities like writing, exercise and cooking, in experiences like travel, therapy, recreational drugs and sacred plant medicine, or even in intangibles like sleep, conversation, friendship and the unknowable and unconquerable entity that is the ocean. So yes, I have absolutely struggled and there are abandonments and issues of trust, violation and security that I still carry with me and continue to work through every day. But I think that at the same time all of these struggles have only pushed me in some way or another towards writing, which seems to be my ultimate catharsis. Having destructive friendships in high school brought me devastating pain but also became the source of my first screenplay…and although I can only speak to my own experience, I feel like I’ve learned along the way that all struggles must have some sort of purpose even if it takes a lifetime to gain perspective on the past. And maybe sometimes we never truly gain perspective, and that’s ok too.
When are you happiest? If happiness is something that can be practiced in our lives, what are the ways in which you create happiness in your life?
At the moment in affluent Western culture, we have been inundated with the idea that we can ‘put things into practice’ to better our lives like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, hygge, cleanses and whatever else people can conceive of a way to brand and commercialize. I don’t think that there is anything inherently wrong with seeking to better our lives, but I also am not sure that I know what the definition of ‘better’ is in this context. Maybe happiness is the definition, or at least one of them. Happiness could be defined by my various memories of it, but even more than that, I think that it is ultimately a state in which I am FREE. Free from stress, anxiety, pain, and anything and everything else that could take me out of the present. It is super hard to live truly in the moment and I’m not sure that I often succeed at it, but I think that this is probably the natural state of happiness. So maybe we can put happiness into practice by simply trying to live in the moment…?
Have you taken any inspiration for happiness or resiliency from another person’s story or other cultures?
I have spent some time working with non-Western forms of healing including Sacred Plant Medicine, New-Age spiritualism and some aspects of Eastern religion, and am happy to have gained perspective from those experiences, but I also don’t feel as though I’m defined by them. I am an empath, and so I try to be a sponge that absorbs as many stories and cultures and experiences as I can in order to have a worldview which is constantly shifting and developing as I move through life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it's that EVERYONE has a story that is equally valuable, and no one is without influences or past experiences that inform the way they see the world and interact with the people in it. It can be so challenging to keep that perspective and try not to pass judgement on those who we don’t identify or agree with, but I do believe that this a universal truth which we often forget.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’m very self-motivated and so I’ll always have a desire to ‘succeed’ and to push myself towards my own standards of success. I want to tell stories through writing and filmmaking and whatever other means of creation I find inspiration in. I want to produce meaningful work which will speak to and empower people, but especially young girls and women. I want to live comfortably, and to have the opportunity to travel. I want to be able to share my experiences with those whom I care about. I’d like to fall in love, maybe more than once. But I guess ultimately all I really hope for is to be happy more often than unhappy, and to be content and feel fulfilled.