I know myself, have a clear idea of my future and I feel really in control of my life.

April Fools.

It’s really easy to get lost in the bad situations you’re involved in. It’s even easier to let that bullshit bleed into other aspects of your life like school, relationships and your mental health. It’s a fact. It’s hard to find an answer to problems like these because they’re really personal and unique to the situations a person is in, but that doesn’t always excuse imploding or exploding to the people around you.

Hey, long time no talk. Since March’s Editor’s Note I have turned 20, shaved off all my hair and cried a lot in a really good way. Those things all paired together sound a tad bit redundant, but I swear it makes sense.

I turned 20 and it did not go the way I expected it to. I was already incredibly anxious for that day and outside pressures and sadness sure as shit did not help. As previously mentioned, I imploded and exploded. I was in this mindset of “this isn’t how this was supposed to go” and instead of helping me reevaluate, I just hurt myself and those around me more. So take it from me, you can’t let things in your periphery, no matter how big they seem, affect what’s right in front of you.

So then I promptly cut all my hair off. I had been struggling with this decision for a long time. It’s something that I still cannot believe I did. I was worried about my femininity first. Then worried that people would think that I had finally cracked. Eventually questions like “will I not look or feel like a woman anymore?” and “how will people view me?” turned into who the f**k cares? Why is it that I put so much stock into my hair which I never really enjoyed and fought to tame nearly everyday. So really what was holding me back? Apparently nothing because going into an appointment for highlights, I left with a pixie and I’m really happy about it. I teared up when she started cutting it all off not from fear, but because I finally felt free of silly insecurities that I had buried in my blonde locks. Everyone I asked told me not to do it, but I am so glad I did.

A lot has changed, but I guess I haven’t really. I’m still growing and still really confused most of the time as well as screwing up left and right. Though I don’t want to beat a dead horse, there is one woman who really helps me out without even knowing it. And yes, it is Jen Gotch. On the surface Gotch, the incredibly successful founder of Ban.do, seems like a fireball of color and confidence but, as seen on her social media feeds, she’s not. Thankfully, Gotch allows her fans and followers the awareness of her mania, depression, and levelness to promote normalcy in feelings and emotions. She does this through a scale from 1-10 that represents where she may be on a normal day that she displays on Instagram. A platform where individuals can curate other people’s perceptions of their lives through not-so-candid pictures, heavy filters and retouching despite being #bodyposi. Although that may have seemed hateful of me to say, I feel it isn’t necessarily hateful, but matter-of-fact. I still buy into these accounts and their posts that often make me feel bad that my day-to-day life doesn’t look like that and encourages me to mirror these posts further sucking others down the rabbit hole.

But back to Gotch. She’s the kind of individual that can be on roller-skates with confetti surrounding her one second and confined to her bed due to a depressive state the next. So, you may be looking at the two very different personas of the same person and thinking, how does this help?

Well, personally, I don’t really feel alone anymore because of Jen. It’s calming to know there are people that I look up to that struggle alongside their strides. She’s the reason I no longer attribute success to perfection whether that be through mental stability, relationships or work. That’s a really powerful thing for a young woman to understand, especially from the openness of a stranger. So, I would like to thank Jen Gotch for making me a stronger and more open person.

So I guess that ties into this month’s theme of Mirage. Something that appears to be real but is, in fact, not. This month is about understanding that everything is not always as it seems. Happiness, strength and maybe even success can sometimes feel like an illusion, but hopefully we can prove to you that it’s a reality that is solely up to you. I hope this was helpful and be sure to follow @jengotch to feel a little more normal and understood from time to time.

Much Love Always,