e·mo·tion·al in·tel·li·gence noun the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
UM is a zine on emotional intelligence to examine the role that emotional expression plays in the process of building wellness in young adults and youth. Through peer to peer shared experiences, that display relatable and realistic representations of how todayâ€™s youth choose to express themselves when dealing with various emotions. Each page is aimed to show individual expression and reflect a emotion with typography and person entwined. It is put in a format of interviews and photos for the reader to be able to hopefully find someone they might relate and see how that person deals with the emotions that life can bring.
All pictures in this issue taken by Eric De Santiago. @cholotorta
SECTIONS 01- Kiki - pg.1 02- Venus - pg.6 03- Keyon - pg.12 04- Mariyah - pg.18 05- Orange - pg.24 06- Megan - pg.30 07- Jose - pg.40 08- Emma - pg.46 09- Express yourself - pg.52
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? K: I am originally from Florida. I’ve been in Vegas for 10 years now and I had my daughter when I was 19. She’s 7 years old. I’m a single mom and I’m a stripper. I’ve been doing that for 3 years. Previously I was working in fine dining so I’ve always had a bit of balance when it comes to both sides of thespectrum. I could be superprofessional and then super wild by night but yeah I feel what’s helped me know how to adapt to situations well. My music is my overall goal. I’m in a band and we’re working on our album we’re hoping that it’s going to allow us to work on other stuff we wanna do and have the freedom to create. What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally? K: There’s a lot, every day I deal with people testing me in a way. I guess I could say that I have anger issues. I was raised around all women and I was taught that whenever we were ever upset we yell and throw all these words at each other. You could easily just go in your room when your upset and just close the door. Then, talk when things cool down you know? And that’s something I’ve been dealing with every day. I have my good and bad days. I’m changing a little bit from how I was raised. Changing your mindset and habits is hard. Changing the person you are is something you really have to work hard towards. You’re so used to doing what you see your mom 2
or anybody that raised you do. Another challenge has been accepting people for who they are. I feel like the number one problem in any relationship is that you have two people trying to change each other. I’ve been learning that if you love someone you just have to let them be who they are going to be. That mindset plays into my role as a mother as well. I can suggest things to my daughter but I can’t change who she is. That was a big problem with me and my mom growing up, she constantly tried to change me into something else and I feel that’s a huge problem with mom and daughter relationships or parent and kids in general. You can make suggestions but you
can’t change them. As a parent, you may have this idea of how a person is supposed to be in your head but that’s just false, you have to let people be who they want to be. With my daughter, I try my best to let her truly be herself.My parents tried to keep me in church all the time telling this was wrong and this was good but anything my daughter is interested is in I’ll ask her, “What do you like about that?” It’s a challenge because it is so easy sometimes for me to be like no you shouldn’t be doing that, but I have to check myself sometimes. I think to myself, “This is what your mom did to you when you grew up, you know the outcome to this.” I have to chill and try to be a friend but still, a loving mother. I always want her to be able to talk to me.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? K: It keeps me well because it allows me to put myself out there to people. It’s important to me that I show people some of the battles and challenges I go through and that I’m not perfect. I like to let people know so that they don’t feel alone. So when it comes to music I try to think of the shit that I don’t necessarily want to talk about sometimes. I talk about things that aren’t always flattering and I feel like that keeps me grounded and healthy because I put it out there. I feel like that’s why I was depressed at one point because I wasn’t expressing myself. I kept everything in. I didn’t feel like I was working towards anything and I got to the lowest of the low.
You just almost feel dead. You don’t want to get out of bed, you don’t want to eat, or do anything. Once you take that first step of showing people what you’re going through, it starts to feel good being honest with yourself and being real with other people. When dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? K: I kinda feel peoples emotions anyways even before they tell me what’s going on. That’s why I say I feel like I’m an empath. I can just feel peoples energy. It is easy for me to relate to other people. If somebody’s having a bad day I start feeling like I’m having one too. I like
to think of a situation I’ve been in that’s similar to what they’re going through and let them know how I coped with that type of issue. At my job, I deal with so many different people nightly. I can deal with someone that’s in the best mood and it puts me in a good mood. And then shortly after I’m dealing with somebody in a bad mood. I try to kill with kindness. Even if it’s someone I don’t know, I can feel the energy if they’re upset or unhappy. I smile at random people when I’m out in public because I feel it goes a long way. Just in a sense that it makes them feel they’re not alone. I’m hoping that’s what they get from a stranger’s smile. Even though I don’t know them or said one word to them I feel like a smile can still do that. 3
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems? K: I see people get on Facebook to throw all their problems on there or talk negatively about a person to make themselves feel better. I know a few people that do that. They almost feel like they have something to prove to somebody. Everybody wants to have the last word and there’s no better way than getting on Facebook to put it out there. But it doesn’t help anything and it just goes back and forth.I feel like social media definitely affects society. They see all these people on Instagram living their best life and the person looking at gets upset that they aren’t doing the same. People start blaming themselves. I feel like it makes people believe they aren’t good enough. You constantly chase after something you aren’t and it’s wrong. I feel like you have to be your own idol. What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? K: It all starts with self-love which is something a lot of people aren’t aware of. Loving yourself is important because if you don’t love you how is anyone supposed to love you? I was raised in a religious home and I wasn’t taught any of that. I wasn’t taught anything about self love it was all about loving God. I didn’t really put myself first and my mom is still dealing with that till this day. She has a hard time dealing with her emotions and expressing herself because shes still caught up in the whole religion thing. 4
Another big thing is realizing that we all have a dark side. When you don’t realize you have a dark side you don’t know how to balance both sides. You have to realize okay this is the dark side of me and I need to control this shit. Find ways to express yourself. I feel like reading helps. Just getting out of your everyday cycle. Doing the things you don’t want to do. And look at things from a different perspective. Anything you’re going through, good or bad if you look at it in an artistic way. Ask yourself, “How can I use this experience?” For example, if I get in an argument with my mom, for me it comes back to music. I try to think of it in an artistic way instead of arguing back with her. I think, “How do I feel right now? What is that I want to say that I’m not really going to verbalize? and “What are things that stuck out that she said to me?” I can write all that down and then I can think of an amazing song to make out of it. It’s almost like you’re talking to yourself. Writing things down is really important and help with finding out what things interest you. Just like introspection, figuring yourself out and taking a break from anything else. Really figuring you out and no one else! I feel like when you’re doing that you find out all these things you didn’t even know about yourself. Then find out how you like to express that. It starts inside first. To be able to express yourself and definitely not care about what other people think. Some of the greatest people like Bowie or Pink Floyd, if you listen to some of their music is super long and that probably wouldn’t play on the radio, but they
made music on their own terms because they’re not making it for anyone else they’re not trying to please a certain crowd they are trying to please themselves. What advice would give your younger self at a most difficult time you had? K: I’m going to keep repeating myself, but I think one the biggest problems was not understanding how important self-love really is. When you don’t love yourself you’ll notice that you’ll put yourself in certain situations where it’s hard for you to say no to certain people. Having respect for yourself, knowing who you are, and loving yourself is key because if you don’t, you’re lost and nothing feels like it has meaning. You shouldn’t feel like you’re constantly trying
to gain acceptance from people or constantly pleasing other people. I’m still on that journey, to be honest. Still on the journey to love myself because no one is perfect. I still wake up on certain days like fuck. I’ll do something and I’m like, “Damn why do I do that?”, but the fact that I’m asking that question and I notice it, I feel like that’s the first step to changing. Notice these little things say to yourself, “That’s not right, why am I doing that?” Certain things shouldn’t sit right with you even if other people don’t see it. If you don’t care about it or ignore it, at the end of the day you’re going to have to face certain challenges later. This comes out in things you’ve done in the past that you think no one knows about. I tell myself nothing is just a coincidence everything we do has a cause and effect.
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? V: My name is Venus. I chose that one myself. I’m an actress first and foremost but I do art, writing, and I’m a filmmaker. I’m a Libra and at my heart, a romantic I would love to believe. I really like clowns I’ve realized that’s a bit of an identifier for me lately which is an interesting thing as a performer to kind of explore as a livable archetype.
What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally? V: Well as a trans woman I have to deal with a lot of verbal abuse on the internet. It’s just low-level douchebags on dating apps just not knowing how to talk to another person. It is very taxing, and sometimes it gets me pretty bummed, but then I just have to reconcile it with myself. I have people I can talk to about it and go as far as, “Oh that’s kinda fucked 8
up.” But I don’t really have anyone else that fully gets it because although my friends are just very kind, they are all cisgendered people. It’s a big thing that I turn to poetry and art mostly because a lot of the time, I get confused by my own feelings. So I just kind of abstract them to a point that makes sense to me. I’ve been doing theatre and it has been a journey to get to where I am now. I’m on the tail end of working a show for a straight 7 months which is fucking mind-blowing for me. Its what I’ve wanted to do forever and I just happened to find a director that finally gets me and understands that me being trans isn’t some hurdle that needs to be overcome. It can be a layer to add on top of what we’re already doing. It’s
been an interesting thing to try and get through because I felt for a long time that couldn’t be taken seriously. I feel like a lot of people see me and they think it’s funny. I guess I get where they’re coming from but like its still really shitty. It feels so simple to me; treat someone with a basic level of respect, but most people don’t get it. That brings me back to the clown thing to where it’s like, “ I’m just here to dance for you.” That’s how a lot of people feel but I don’t particularly like that. I have cool people who at the end of the day, once I’m able to on an individual level deal with my own emotions, I can come back and talk to. I get pretty solitary in the way I deal with things, but I think I prefer it that way. I think its just easier that way.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? V: I bought this really big sketchbook because I’ve tried a journal so many times. I’m like, “I’m a writer. I know how to write.” but as soon as I have to define feelings it honestly makes me more upset. So having something like drawing to shape those things and give a physical place to how I’m feeling. Its easier to let out. It’s a little bit harder to do that with acting, at least where I am right now because I’m not producing my own things. I have to figure out what it is inside of me I can use in the work I’m doing. I did the musical Cabaret where I was a dancer and I’d never had the chance to dance on stage before. It was nerveracking because I’m a bigger
trans woman having to put herself out there. I was literally just wearing a nightgown and having to be provocative the whole time. There was a burlesque number where we were basically naked by the end. That was so exciting to me because it was what I wanted to do for a while but I was so scared no one would take it seriously. I thought they would say “Oh this isn’t funny, to have a dude up there dancing like that.” But then someone literally said that they thought that I was and that blew my fucking mind. The good and the cool thing about theater as a practice is that even though you may not getting everything you need on stage, the community that ends up being built around a theater and production really gives you a good support. Of course, that’s if you’re doing it with the right kind of people which I feel like I have been. I think a big reason why I have so many different outlets
is because I have a lot of things that I want to get across. I’m very big on telling a story the best way it can be told. I wrote a whole play on these terrible people and I just included little things that I find bad about myself in all of them and it is just me kind of just trying to let it all out. I just love being a multi-disciplinarian because its the easiest way for me to get it all out. How do you keep your form of expression fun and form of meditation rather than work? V: There are definitely days when I have to go in and deliver when I’m not feeling great but I have to work through it. There have been times when just doing it, having a place where I have to go and deliver no matter what kind of gives me a break from it. If I’m doing a show I know what I have to bring and I just can’t be pissed off or sad. It gives me a way to put those stressors on the back burner then later come back to them and be like, “You still 9
V: There are definitely days when I have to go in and deliver when I’m not feeling great but I have to work through it. There have been times when just doing it, having a place where I have to go and deliver no matter what kind of gives me a break from it. If I’m doing a show I know what I have to bring and I just can’t be pissed off or sad. It gives me a way to put those stressors on the back burner then later come back to them and be like, “You still upset? Is that something still affecting you?” It’s nice to be able to step outside of myself and kind of put Venus to rest for a minute. It’s been great, I did Bigfoot the musical and I was playing a character that couldn’t be further away from me because he’s this happy go lucky super naive little boy. I had a lot of weird gender turmoil from that because I was having to play a big old dude. It was weird putting it on every night until I leaned into the fact that I’m just doing straight-up drag right now. In full makeup, full costume as much work as any other role but more work because I was terrified of singing. Just having to play someone who is happy and isn’t super sarcastic it let me just kind of be that for an hour or two. I got to live in that headspace, and while as nerve-racking it was, it was also very nice. Even when it was a show where as soon as i got off stage I was like “I’m gonna hang myself” (jokingly) but as soon as I got back on stage it was great and I was able to stop feeling that.
When dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them?
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems?
V: Mainly what I do tying back to the whole clown thing is I make jokes. That’s just how my family has always dealt with things. It’s a big thing for me to have power over a situation if I’m able to laugh at something then it’s not going to be this thing that will eat me whole. That doesn’t work for everybody and I’ve learned that so I’ve tried to gauge with certain people when I can start joking about things. So before I start with that I’m more of a hug and allow them to talk kind of person. A big thing that I do day to day is I try to create a space where people can talk about whatever they’re going through and feeling, then you don’t have someone that’s blowing up. that’s the thing that scares me the most. So I try and offer emotional maintenance by talking to someone and being like, “How are you? And whats the tough shit you’re going through?” And not always contributing too much to what they’re saying but just allowing them to talk through things. I found that it’s helpful for turning them towards introspection.
V: There’s this concept of an echo chamber. You usually end up there out of fear. It’s when you’re in a space where everybody agrees with you and no matter what, everyone’s going to have the same opinion as you. Not to be too modern but I see it a lot in “Finsta” circles (private Instagram). It’s the idea if you’re feeling selfloathing and really sad about it and you get to post it for a group of people that feel the same. Those feelings are going to be validated which is good to a point but then it gets to where everybody kind of celebrates being sad and being upset at everything until it becomes your whole life. For a long time, I was in a circle of people who were all finding out that we were all suffering from some mental illness at the same time we were all like, “Oh there’s something wrong you’re not supposed to be this bummed all the time”. It became a way that we all related to each other and it was the only way we knew how to relate to each other because it was the only thing we wanted, to go through; and figure this out. It was where I learned to be introspective in a way. So I think there is a way in which you kind of be stunted in a supportive community. It’s like when people come to Vegas because it’s a cheap place to live but its also has cheaper income and eventually its harder to get out of once you’re here and I think that’s what the social the Echo Chambers do to people. Its good to know that you can feel the way you feel but it’s even better to be able to improve yourself.
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? V: Finding the right form of expression its hard which is why I’ve settled on to four different things. Its hard regardless of it feels like the right one reveals itself to you and you probably already know what it is but you’re not doing it. If you’ve always wanted to act you can start if you want to write you can starts it may not be good sometimes its not good even when you are good. You just have to be able to acknowledge that fact and move forward. I started doing poetry because I saw other people doing and thought it was cool. My first poems were absolute garbage but guess what you have to do things to get good it’s literally a matter of practice. It’s just
whatever you’re drawn to. Your personality knows what it is and you can fight it all you want but you’re going to be miserable. Talking specifically from a Trans level, I just started living how I want to live. If I saw something cute that fit me I would just get it. It feels a little reckless at first but eventually, you’re just naturally living the life you want to live and you’re becoming the person you are. I understand its a luxury I’ve been fortunate with how my life has gone at this point but there are little things you can do on a personal level. For example I like the color yellow, so I buy a bunch of yellow shit now because when I look at it I’m happy and when I see myself in it I’m happy. Its what I want to be wearing and how I want to be seen. I wish it was easier and more common for people to be like that but the world makes it a little rough. Regardless, you have to know that at end of the day what you’re really trying to do in this life is be happy. The thing that’s going to make your life of quality is doing the things that make you happy. Your soul will draw you to things that are going to fulfill you and it’s more possible then it seems.have someone that’s blowing up. that’s the thing that scares me the most. So I try and offer emotional maintenance by talking to someone and being like, “How are you? And whats the tough shit you’re going through?” And not always contributing too much to what they’re saying but just allowing them to talk through things. I found that it’s helpful for turning them towards introspection.
What advice would give your younger self at a most difficult time you had? V: Hey bitch, shits going to be hard for a minute and by a minute I mean up to this point shits pretty hard and it gets harder. You’re chasing a fantasy this kind of normalcy you want and its just not going to happen for you. I’m here to tell you not being normal, and honestly, one of the weirder people in your circle, its going to be the thing that pulls you forward and brings the right people towards you. Its dark where you are right now but you’re going to be fine and you kind of have to get to through this phase to get to where you are now. You’re going to be a lot smarter about yourself and people after this. People will show you their true nature and you don’t have to be friends with people that don’t make you feel good. You’re also going to go through many years attached to someone that you’re going to see made a lot of things difficult for you and just have to do things for yourself. Treat yourself like a star because you deserve it. Alright, love you bye!
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? K: My name is Keon Kelp. I’ve always had a really difficult time about talking about myself and explaining who I am as a person. So this question off the top is very difficult and intimate to me personally. It’s something I struggle with. I would say I’m someone who better articulates himself through more abstract things such as dance and music. I feel like I’m someone who articulates himself better when I’m amusing people. And I’d say that that’s that’s what explains me I like to amuse people and that makes me happy when other people are happy.
What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally? K: I wouldn’t say it’s an issue but I would say the biggest obstacle in my life has always been kind of living under my dad’s shadow and trying to almost live up to what he has done in his life an almost I don’t know. I just don’t want to be left in a shadow. And. I feel like I spend so much time thinking about this. And its almost annoying because it comes full circle because I spend so much time thinking about it rather than acting upon it. I don’t know if I’m so much dealing with it as I am just expressing it. Personally I feel like I’m going to live a lifetime dealing with it. Just to
kind of summarize I would say my biggest issues is dealing with living in the shadow of my dads life and also dealing with the illusion of time and like being existential and that I’m just anxious that there’s no answers to life and that I deal with it by expressing it through Many things not even just art. I would say I express it in. The way I walk and. Just the way I live life. I feel like it’s important to live life in an optimistic manner. Even in like if you believe that there’s no purpose maybe like the purpose is to life just be be positive. Thats how I deal with just being positive.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? K: As far as dance I would say it keeps me mentally well in that I stay physically well and I can release anger through movement I feel like I’ve always been like a real bottled up person. And ever since I was young I would dance when I was angry for some reason or if I was sad and I would dance and it was just a real easy way to keep positivity.
How do you keep your form of expression fun and form of meditation rather than work? K: B-boying I feel like it’s infinite and that the possibilities are endless. There’s no real limit. And the progression and the journey is just so amusing and so incredible.To me it’s the most beautiful form of movement and the most difficult form of movement. So really like it’s a journey that will never end. So that will never be not fun even when I’m old like fucking popping my knees and trying to do a knee drop or something.
And as far as music it’s harder because when you want to make a living off something it almost feels like work no matter how you do it. So I would definitely say it’s a lot harder with music but much like dance is infinite I find myself making many different kinds of stuff just to keep it fun. I feel like it will always be fun for me like video games for example like I’ll play video games till I’m fucking 80 years old I’ll be making music till I’m 80 years old. I just like doing it so I do it.
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems?
when dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? K: I would say personally from my own experience I try not relate it back to me too much in my life experience. I like to listen to what people are dealing with and take them whole heartedly and really try and understand what they’re going through rather than think how it’s something I went through. I really try to understand that every experience is different and 16
not everything may work the same for other people. I’d probably joke around make them laugh or something. I’m really good at making people have a good time. I just like making people feel comfortable and I find that makes it easier to kind of communicate with people emotionally when people are comfortable with you.
K: I feel like we live in a society where people compare each other to each other a lot whether it be through social media or like just public or what have you.I feel like people comparing each other to other people is a really big issue and especially with artists because they’re so vulnerable and what people put out there is themselves. When you compare yourself to other people’s selves it’s never going to work out because no one’s the same no one’s made the same. No one thinks the same really. And I feel like society is structured in a way that it almost wants us tocompare ourselves to other people to other people’s life experiences and other people’s path to success or what have it. And I feel like that needs to change. I would just say it affects people’s selfe-steem and how they carry themselves and almost the image that they want to portray rather than portraying themselves and that’s really damaging. I feel like people at this point would rather put up a facade to show face rather than show their own face.
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? K: Have fun no matter what it is like just have fun and whatever you do I say put your best foot forward doing it because that’s the only way you’re gonna get something back out of it. You can’t half ass anything and expect something out of it. And another thing is expectations. I wouldn’t say killing your expectations or not lowering expectations. I feel like expectations are both damaging but it can be rewarding too. So I would say if you have expectations you better be putting your fucking all into whatever you’re doing. Yeah I would say as long as you enjoy doing it just do it to the best of your ability. The sky’s the limit. I will say that just breaking through
any comfort zone you may have is probably the best way to go through change or experience growth. So if you if someone says they’re stuck or if they feel stagnant then maybe try asking that girl out you’ve been looking at or maybe just go on a hike you know like really experience life in different ways and just try to make the most out of your personal experience however it may be. Experience life and really just take the chances that you probably wouldnt usually take. As far as like creating and expressing yourself through an art form all it takes is just the effort and more than anything I would just say put the effort into something rather than just saying no. Effort equals return. Whether it be happiness or success just step out your comfort zone and put that effort into really trying to grow.
What advice would give your younger self at a most difficult time you had? K: I would of told my fucking 4 year old self start learning all these instruments now because we could have been on that blood orange shit. (laughs) I would tell myself the day I was born till yesterday that if you want something you really gotta get it you can’t wait for it. And waiting does nothing but cause more thinking and anxiety. That life is really about the journey and you shouldn’t rush things that you have your whole life to do everything. That you don’t have to have it together. That you really won’t know what’s going on. Everything might not go how you want it to go all the time but just know that everything will be alright.
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? M: My name is Mariyah and I am 20 years old. I’m a stripper. I have three kids. They’re all animals but I feel like they’re my children. I’m vegan, I like the color pink, I like hanging at home alone and pole dancing at home. I’m really into energy, karma, crystals and meditating and just being at one with myself. I just believe in being a really good person and putting out good energy around people. What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally?
M: I guess some challenges I face would probably be definitely dealing with my family because they’re just actually, not my siblings but my mom, grandma, and my aunt they’re just all really crazy people so I try to not react to it. I just try to accept that they’re like that and not argue with them. Work is a challenge for me sometimes because I have
to deal with a lot of bullshit constantly and crazy stuff being said and done.So I just have to not take everything that’s said to me so seriously or let it affect me. Sometimes the work stuff really bothers me emotionally I’ll be a bit drained from it. That’s probably why I like to be alone a lot is because I have to use a lot of my social energy towards these random people. I also have a lot of pressure being 20 and completely taking care of myself and my pets. Sometimes I get really really stressed out and I‘ll all cry or I’ll just stay in my room or stay inside for days unless I’m going to work. Dancing helps me a lot. That’s how I would deal with some stuff emotionally because if I’m at home dancing with my clothes on for myself I don’t really think about my problems. I also have a diary so sometimes I write stuff out to help me deal with and to think about it more rationally because I get really worked up sometimes. My pets help me too because they’re just like my emotional support animals. Adulthood is just really stressful.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? M: It really helps me because even if I’m dealing with somebody who is pissing me off or I’m just upset about something then if I’m doing that I don’t really care. It doesn’t really bother me and I’m just listening to music and dancing and just kind of in my own world in my mind like I’ll just do that for like eight hours straight. It really helps me to be distracted and realize that I can’t fix everything at that moment. So why stress about it like obviously it still matters and I still have to deal with it emotionally but I can’t fix everything. So it’s a good distraction and good workout too. It makes me feel proud of myself like I did something good or did something right, it helps me a lot. How do you keep your form of expression fun and form of meditation rather than work?
home because it’s just weird to just go and hang out there. It’s really different when I’m at home than at work because at work it’s for a different reason, I’m doing it to get paid and I’m in a room full of men. Being at home I get to wear whatever I want I don’t have to wear lingerie so I can wear shorts and a sports bra and a big t-shirt and I can play whatever music I want. Even though they sort of let me play whatever I want at work they don’t have like certain songs or if it’s too slow they won’t and I love dancing really slow because that’s how I dance I just dance slow. So it’s easier to dance to slow music for me. So at home, I can practice something over and over again instead of having to do like a whole five-minute routine.
Making it my own at home and just being able to express myself not always so sexually more just in an artistic way. At work it’s a sexual thing it’s just kind of obvious that’s the way it is, but at home, it’s more so just because I want to dance. There are times I’ve left work and came home and danced till like 5:00 a.m. and I don’t really care because sometimes I feel like they’re undeserving and I’ve wasted my energy. Not having always to wear the heels would make it more fun because sometimes the heels hurt my feet, so if I can dance in socks that’s a lot of fun for me and it’s a lot easier to do tricks because heels are kind of heavy. The environment is different, having my pets here and they’re my audience it’s just a lot more peaceful than men that I don’t like staring at me I mean not trying to be like “oh I can’t handle it and I don’t like it” I don’t really care. Doesn’t really bother me I don’t even really think about it when I’m at work and there at the edge of the stage but it’s just definitely a different vibe and I definitely dance differently. I don’t really like doing floor work but you know at work I have to do it, at home I can just dance on the pole the whole time and just do the same trick over and over and over again if I want to which is cool.
M: For a while, it was just for work and when I didn’t have a pole in my apartment the only time I ever danced was at work. Sometimes I would go early when nobody was there just to go and dance so that’s when I realized maybe I should get something at 21
when dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? M: I would say I’m pretty good with my friends and stuff if they’re going through something or dealing with something, I’m really good at empathizing with what they’re going through first and their emotions and reading the situation. I think about how to talk to them or if I should talk at all or I should just listen. Work and friends are totally different. At work, I just go up to somebody and I have to kind of read them and see how I should act and how should I talk to, this sounds really fucked up, but to get the most money out of them or the situation that I’m in. I have regulars so those are people that come back and see me all the time or multiple times once a month and I know that I have to be a certain way with them. They’ll come in just to vent to me about their lives which is like really weird I know, they’ll pay for hours of my time, I’m like a therapist there. I’ve had guys just come in and complain about their wives and their jobs and everything and I just sit there and I listen or I talk to them about it. I try to just listen to people because that’s what I 22
would like sometimes, just try to get it off my chest. I would just try to tell them, “Oh you know I went through something similar”, because I’ve been through a lot of bullshit. I feel very sad for people and I feel a lot of feelings for people. If somebody I really care about is going through something I can feel it times a hundred, like my close friend is going through a lot right now and I’m really stressed for her and I just try to let her know that I’m here for her if there’s anything I can do to help her feel better. I don’t like when people are sad or if they’re going through shit so I just try to be helpful. Whatever that person needs if I can do it, I’ll do it for the most part. I’m pretty nice I think I’m really empathetic honestly, that’s why I’m vegan it’s because I can’t deal with the thought of what happens to animals and the thought of just that happening to life itself or just like a living thing, I feel people’s pain.
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems? M: I have a close friend who has a Finsta (private Instagram) and she puts all of her emotions on it, some stuff that she doesn’t even tell me. Some stuff that you shouldn’t tell anybody or just maybe not for social media. I guess people kind of use their social media as like a diary sometimes or maybe because they’re really lonely and they look at their followers as like their friends and it makes them feel better to get it off their chest. So I’m not trying to judge. It’s not a bad thing, I feel like people should be able to be open and you should be able to talk to people. If you are alone and maybe some random person across the United States or across the world is going through the same thing, that might be the perfect person to talk to about it. I mean I’ve never really had that happen personally and I’m not really the type person to put very personal stuff on the Internet but I’ve seen that a lot. I think that maybe in today’s society it’s probably a little bit more normal, even for men to be emotional and I think that’s really good.
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? M: I didn’t have anything for a while and I didn’t start dancing till I was 18. I didn’t really look at it as art until maybe the beginning of this year, I would just go and look at it as money. So I think if you’re not really into artsy stuff just be open-minded to try stuff. If your friends are going to o something new to you and you feel like a little bit worried about it, just try it you never know you might be super into it. I used to deal with my emotions when I was in high school by being high 24/7 and just isolate the fuck out of myself and do really unhealthy stuff. So I guess I would say don’t do that, deal with your stuff. I know sometimes for me I’ll feel like I’m bothering people by texting them, “Oh hey I’m not feeling that great or I’m not ok.” The people that are in your life care about you and you’re not annoying. So just hit people up if you’re having a hard time. If you’re having a hard time dealing with your emotions or you’re feeling confused sometimes just talking it out or writing it down, (not on Instagram) to yourself that will help you deal with your emotions. Find a way to express yourself. I fell into that, I probably never would have never done pole dancing in my own home and looked at it the way I did If it wasn’t for stripping. Just step out of your comfort zone as simple as that sounds, because I’m very shy. So the fact that I was like, “Oh I’m 18 years old and I’m going take my clothes off in front of a roomful of strangers” that was definitely out of my
comfort zone but now it’s changed my whole life and I wouldn’t have half the things I have without it. I wouldn’t have the people in my life that I have now, I wouldn’t have pole dancing if I didn’t just go out and try something new. Icompletely change my life like that in like a week. What advice would give your younger self at your most difficult time? M: Honestly, I feel like my most difficult time would definitely be when I first moved to Vegas. It was a really, really hard time and I did not handle it well. I wish I could have just told myself that it’s not the end of the world and I realize now that everything passes. I totally accept stuff and anything that happens to me I can handle it and it wouldn’t happen to me if I couldn’t handle it.
I trust the path that I’m on because I believe in all that shit about my soul is a path and all that. Before, I didn’t have that clarity and I didn’t have that peace of mind or like the way of looking at things. I used to look at everything as like, “Oh my god I can’t believe this is happening to me and I can’t handle this. I just want everything to end and I just want to die and I’m just so depressed!” I wish I could’ve just told myself that it’s going to be okay. Just because you’re back at square one doesn’t mean that everything that’s happened was for nothing and all the stuff that happened doesn’t define you either.Don’t be in your head so much. I was really in my head just like crazy in my head, I was so depressed. Trust your life, trust yourself and really great stuff is about to happen. I wish I could tell myself that I was gonna be here now and I have the people that I have and have the life that I have now because before it was a really bad life but it’s okay.
What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally?
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? C: My name is Orange. I am 25 years old. I work at a clothing store, and I love my family.I’m really close to them. I really care about selfimprovement and reaching self-actualization. I try to do that with anything and everything. I do it through art, fashion, writing and not holding myself back in terms of my personality too. I feel like I have a unique personality. I have like ten personalities and I just want to let all of them have their stage time throughout the whole day. Honestly, I’m really kind of traditional but I’m also very free. 26
C: One of the biggest challenges I face in my life currently and have been facing for the past five years or so is just trying to find my place in the world. I know what I’m good at. I know what I like to do but I don’t know where I belong in the world. To break it down, the most challenging thing is trying to make a good living with my talents. I’m interested in so many things and I know
so many things and I know that I’m a personality. I just have like a bubbly kooky crazy funny personality. And I’m just trying to figure out how I can find purpose in all of that. I want to figure out what’s my thing what am I on earth for, how can I utilize my being in a way where I can see it actually being put to use on earth so that I can be proud of. But I figure honestly there’s no point in worrying. Worrying it’s a useless activity. I used to assume that worrying would force me to do something, but when you worry it’s a negative feeling so it doesn’t promote an emotional space for you to collect yourself. So I just don’t worry and then I compartmentalize things that are just out of my control. I also read a lot of books from authors that are much older than me and that’s all they say; don’t worry. Just operate from a place of authenticity because when you operate from a sense of authenticity there’s nothing more you can do. I have to trust that I’ll eventually find my place because I’m always being myself, and when I’m operating from that space of authenticity and at ease about my life that’s when things start to make more sense. I’m more easily able to relax into the idea of maybe I can do this or go into this type of career.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? C: So my immediate artistic expression on a day to day basis is clothing and my appearance. How it helps me, again it’s like an exercise of authenticity am I willing to wear something like that because I feel like this. So when I say yes and I give myself permission to be myself it makes me feel better because I feel like I am standing up for what I actually believe in and what I would tell people. I have integrity because I’m actually enacting that for myself. So that’s how I keep myself in check emotionally and it just sets me up for my day because if I leave the house and I’m like you know what this is what I wanted to wear or if I don’t execute my outfit well at least I tried. And there’s value in trying.I start off on a good note but if I do execute the look right then I’m just in that space of like well I look the way I feel inside so why am I going to act differently. Like in the middle of the day I’m not I’m not going to have a moment of li being shy or being not confident because I already performed an action of selflove and authenticity.
when dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? C: So Maya Angelou, I love her. The poet, the writer, and civil rights activist she would give advice to Oprah when she was feeling some type of way about somebody or someone wrote bad about her in the papers. She’d get upset and Maya Angelou would say, “Baby you’re not even in it, you are not even in that story.” And that really spoke to me because I knew what she meant. When she says you’re not even in it shes saying you have to define who you. That’s a form of boundary setting and it’s a way to get clear about what people are actually concerned about. It helps you determine if they’re concerned about you or if they’re talking about you. The person they’re talking about is not even you, it’s somebody they made up. So that’s how I’m able to take myself out of it so I don’t get to a place where I feel like I’m being personally attacked. The Four Agreements is this book I’ve read and it says when people are judging you, it’s never about you it’s a reflection on them. If I don’t ask questions I’m just clueless. When I ask questions I’m engaging with that person’s emotions and the person’s experience. When I don’t ask questions I’m not engaging and then there’s literally no basis for us to come to an understanding.
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems? C: Our society teaches us to put on a strong face. “Get over it and stop crying”, especially if you’re a boy. So people just hate emotions. Society hates men who are weak who show emotion because women show emotion and there’s a hatred of women in most of society. So generally we’re taught not to feel and we don’t know what to do. A lot of the people around me are mad at the wrong things. And the reason why they’re mad at the wrong things because they know that they weren’t given the permission from their childhood to their adulthood to explore their emotions and really get to the bottom of why they feel the way they do.
A lot of people around me they’re not engaging and they’re afraid to really be ugly and really be vulnerable. Out of all the other countries in the world we Americans do not want to be vulnerable. They don’t want to be vulnerable economically, militarily speaking and in their homes because it’s painful and there’s so much shame around that. When you’re vulnerable you have to talk about shame and you when you start talking about shame you’re seen as weak and when you’re seen as weak how can you ever make people believe that you’re a strong person. They’re afraid to show who they are.Afraid to be creative because they think “Oh my God no one’s going to like
this because somebody said My drawings sucked in middle school and somebody told me I couldn’t sing and somebody told me I write weird songs” it’s beaten out of us. They have so many walls up they’re guarded but then they’re miserable. They’ve built this wall of misery around them and the only way to get out of it is not by being fearless it’s by actually being kind to yourself talking yourself the way you would talk to your child if you had one you would encourage your child to be creative.
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? C: I would advise them first and foremost to surround themselves with kind and permissive voices. If it’s hard for you to find people to surround yourself with who allow you to be yourself, do that through books. I would listen to podcasts by successful people and who thought outside the box who interviewed people who also think outside the box. When you hear voices like that you know you’re going to constantly notice a trend between successful people and happy people they give themselves permission to be themselves. When you surround yourself with that kind of voice you become your environment. Fish are as healthy as the water they swim in. You want to swim in good water in terms of the stuff that you hear, the people that you look up to, and the people that you want to model your life after. Look for people who you think you want to be like and find out who they listen to and what gave them the nerve to be that person. Eventually, you’ll you’ll be given the nerve to be the person you wanted to be and express the things you want to express.
What advice would give your younger self at your most difficult ? C: So the most difficult time in my life was in my early 20s. I was extremely anxious and extremely depressed and I had suicidal ideation. I wasn’t suicidal but I thought about death a lot. Thinking about death made me feel a little relaxed because I’m like oh well I could die. I could end my suffering. I was like at that point I still am at that point but not because I’m sad just because like life is agitating. It’s an agitating event. At times I would just want to sleep. I would tell myself to travel solo somewhere you’ve never been, where no one knows you, where you have to figure out how to take the bus, how to buy a plane ticket. Leave your life because that’s a form of leaving your life when you travel, you literally adopt
another form of living for a time being. When you’re in a new place, oh my God! There are so many things to look at and it takes you out of your struggle. That’s what I would always tell myself is to just travel if honestly if you are feeling some type of about your life travel by yourself. Underline by yourself. Don’t take anybody. Don’t take your girlfriend, boyfriend, don’t take your boo travel by yourself. That will literally cure your soul I promise you that will cure you in some way that will change something about you and you will feel it when you come back. 29
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? M:I think I’m still navigating that territory but obviously, I’m an accumulation of my experiences. What I’m trying to navigate is how I choose to grow from those experiences versus letting them consume me. Whether they’re positive or negative experiences I feel like I get really overwhelmed and in any emotional category. I’m a very curious person to the point that I get addicted to different things and I can’t tend to commit to anything specific. For a long time that made me feel really confused and I didn’t know what was going. But once you kind of calm down you start to become friends with time or at least become less scared of time. It’s something that you can’t control in your life and I think I’ve learned to appreciate that relaxing and letting time just do its thing. to appreciate that relaxing and letting time just do its thing. Like now 32
I’ve gotten to a point I guess where I’m being curious and I’m going in so many different directions in life. At first, that seems like the wrong thing to do but now I’m feeling like it was exactly the right thing for me. To listen to myself and let myself experience and explore because now I can connect all those dots and I have a more rounded experience. It helps me connect with more people and also connect with more work. Even in a tactile way, it’s like oh I wanted to study photography for a little bit and I wanted to study psychology for a little bit and then I wanted to like make interactive art. With this last installation in Dallas that I did with this other artist. My favorite thing about it was because it was interactive I could see how people chose to interact with it. We made the projects so that one controller always had to be moving and someone always had to be on that controller in order for another person to be able to interact with the project. You had to interact with another person in a way. I loved getting to see how people instinctively would do that and instinctively would connect with each other. It turned into more of a social experiment and in that way thinking about psychology and people. I was able to grow the artwork in that project in a different way than if I had just gone to film school and wanted to just study film or chose not
to travel or chose not to go on random excursions in life. I’ve learned that I say yes to a lot of things and that can be really extreme things like oh I just met this person and they invited me to visit them in this other city and I’m the type of person that will actually go do that not just say that that would be really cool and then never do it so I end up in a lot of bizarre situations. I moved to Australia specifically based off someone that I had met in Mexico. We just got along really well and their friends were all into the same type of things. So I think what has made me uniquely me is saying yes to a lot of life experiences and being curious.
What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally? M:I Didn’t have a very good childhood. In general, my life doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people. They’re like, “Wait you moved here? You did what? Who were you with? That doesn’t make any sense!” It’s not a very straightforward or common path. A lot of things were not easy for me growing up. I mean everything is connected to your childhood but I definitely had a childhood that wasn’t very good on paper. I was very loved and I think that makes a huge difference in how rough everything else was but I did deal with abuse and things like that and moments of poverty and just you know general psychological fuckery.Dealing with that has actually taken a really long
time to do. I spent a lot of time learning to not be afraid. So I feel like the main thing is challenging myself to overcome fear, fear of expressing emotions and really feeling them because I think it’s instinctual to protect yourself and build these walls especially if you deal with anything as a child it’s programmed in you. So you have to really fight yourself. It’s just been relearning how to feel. I think the biggest way I’m dealing, with which doesn’t really answer the question of like something specific is like, “Oh I do this to overcome this” I think it’s really just about learning to feel and not being afraid to really feel your core emotions and get past anxiety or the distractions that we build.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? M: Actually, I’ve never really specifically thought about this because it’s all so instinctual. What I’ve actually been learning a lot is to distract myself from my core emotions like my main emotions that I should be expressing. I build walls of anxiety or depression. Then to channel that, instead of going back to my core emotions I go into other things which are overworking and I think that that’s actually pretty prominent in society in general. Especially in our generation; we hustle really hard. I think that it’s good in a way but I think that the hustle is actually coming from a non-healthy place. I’m starting to learn that a lot for myself but I’m recognizing it a lot when I talk with friends as well. I’m noticing this trend where we’ve all got like 10 titles now like everyone’s a producer, is an editor, is a writer is a CEO we’re all climbing this mountain and we’re not stopping. I think that is actually just us trying to cope with our anxiety but then it turns in to denying ourselves of what we’re really feeling which could be joy, could be anger, just stimulation in general. So I think overworking and being my creative self, has actually been a coping mechanism. So I’m actually learning it’s not that great of a thing but the expression itself, that helps me. From when I was a kid and dealing with abuse and things like that I would live in this kind of fantasy world in this more detached world. For me, creativity has been a way to express that in a healthier manner. So I can be in a fantasy land or I can have my head in the clouds and at least create something from it or at least expresssomething positive from this essentially negative not really like a parasite but this thing that I haven’t worked through yet. Yes the creativity 33
something positive from this essentially negative thing that I haven’t worked through yet. Creativity is a good coping mechanism but it’s also a healthy answer to when I’m really far away and I feel like I need to be really far away. I get this way where I either have to really hide from people and I don’t want people to talk to me, I don’t want people to come into my bubble, I don’t want to interact with anyone whatsoever. Even if I am Interacting or operating as a regular person in society, I am still kind of in this space of floating. It’s just a detachment basically because I don’t want to feel reality. I don’t want to feel that kind of sensation of your feet on the ground which is technically healthy. But I’ve just been programmed for so long to kind of step away and before I was like creatively expressing myself I was just floating and it was just this abyss of like foggy existence really. Then the more that I put weird things on paper or got lost in the computer instead I was able to create shapes, colors and just forms of what was going on inside of me which I think is why a lot of my work is either somewhat not necessarily psychedelic but more ethereal. A lot of it is ethereal or literally cloudy a lot of the time or there are light colors or it goes to the opposite which is really really dark colors. It’s an expression of the mood or state that I’m in at that moment as well and it always alternates back and forth there are rarely times where I’m in the middle. I see right now the fact that people are trained a lot to have this specific body of work. Everything needs to 34
be cohesive even especially like art school or like anyone and business and marketing everything needs to be cohesive. You need to have like a specific color palette. Everything needs to live in a specific world and that’s what’s gonna make you stand out as an artist. Yeah I would love for my life to be creative and that’s how I’m gonna be paid, but it’s more important to me that I just ride the waves of whatever I’m feeling and creatively express that. So when you look at my work there are pockets where everything is in a certain color wheel or is a floaty happy psychedelic expression or there are dark and vivid bright colors, hard darkness all around it and that’s its own pocket too. Then I go back to something else maybe I’m feeling earthy maybe whatever’s going on in my life at that moment is connecting me to the ground. It’s more important to me to express that and continue riding that wave of who I am
and what I’m experiencing in life and connecting now to the past to the future than it is for me to have like this body of work that stands as a specific entity. Like “This is Meghan Nazario and everything she does is transcendent”. I understand that could get in the way from a business side of things but then that’s just business toxic. “How is this person going to become successful?” Why not let them continue to just feel because I thought that’s the point of creativity anyway is just expressing yourself. If you find your specific pocket and you love to live in that pocket and that makes sense for you then that’s really awesome. If you don’t know that yet, I feel like you should never stop exploring all the other things around you. If you want to be successful in what you do. I feel like that is the most important thing as far as creatively expressing myself and connecting it to my work.
How do you keep your form of expression fun and form of meditation rather than work? M: It’s fun to have a client or a project and challenge yourself within these boundaries. It’s it’s own exciting artistic challenge but it’s definitely more important to me to never forget that my initial reason for doing anything and why I want to do it so much is because of the way it makes me feel. Staying connected to that I think is the most important and the most authentic thing that you can do for yourself and for your life. I just make sure that I’m constantly inspired and it can be something really small as well. I’m just going to edit this really tiny thing and all I’m going to do is post it on Instagram and that’s all I really care about or I’m going to make it and its just going to sit in a binder and no one will ever see it. It’s just about making sure that whatever you’re feeling especially anxiety I feel like is the most important emotion to navigate. You know what, it’s not even an emotion. I’m not even gonna give anxiety the credit of being an emotion because it’s just a defense mechanism. Just getting that out of your system even if you’re just doodling and it looks like shit who even cares but it’s literally taking this energy and moving it through your body and getting it out. However it’s feasible to you, which sometimes to me that’s just chopping up photos on Photoshop and making weird ass collages or something. Those are also oddly enough the times that I actually make things that I appreciate the most because it hurts in a good way. Challenge yourself with a client or a project that hurts too and it
client or a project that hurts too and it hurts in its own good way but it just doesn’t feel as good. It’s really nice to work hard at something and then see this result and feel like you have something to be proud of but it definitely feels like it feeds my ego more than it feeds my core. When you make a random thing on a Sunday afternoon when you’re just listening to music and experimenting I think that’s a big part of it too. In those phases of experimentation is also where you’re staying more pure to yourself and more pure to your creative process.
When dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? M: So I actually have seemingly the opposite problem of that question which is I over empathize. So I’ve been spending a lot of time learning how to separate myself from people which has also taken me on obscure paths that I didn’t necessarily want to be on when I look at who my true self is. I just get caught up in how other people are feeling, what they want to accomplish, or their own anxieties and fears. How I’m learning to deal with that is just writing things down on paper and then referencing who I am and what I want to do and making sure “Does
this emotion I’m feeling, is it actually my own? And does it actually answer one of these things that I’ve written down?”. If you have a problem empathizing with people and navigating that territory and trying to figure out your own zone a lot of it has just been about understanding. It’s just a state of openness I think and you have to find a balance because you can obviously be too open like I am or you can be closed off and not be able to relate. I think the things that I’ve learned the most are just communication, like raw communication and not ignoring your instincts. Like if you’re collaborating with someone and they start getting a little different. I think you know when someone’s not telling you something. I think fear drives us so much that we’re even afraid to find out what that person is really thinking or feeling themselves that we don’t even ask. Then we just act instead without the proper communication happening and so things just build layer after layer on top of each other until there’s too much friction or just no compatibility. People are not compatible that’s totally possible. If you communicated more there’s probably a way to figure out obviously how you relate and focus on those ways that you relate versus your differences. A lot of times even just recognizing someone’s difference could contribute something really positive instead of looking at it in a negative way. It’s really hard I think for people to be honest with themselves but I think that’s the biggest first step in empathizing is remembering the pain that you felt in your life andon’t want to feel it again. So it’s just as simple as “I don’t want to feel that I and I don’t think I want someone 36
else to feel that either so what can I do about that.” You empathize you think about my past being similar to someone else’s past and just remembering that we’re all constantly living in a general existence of confusion and misunderstanding. If you talk to people more, which I know is really hard sometimes. It really sucks to talk to someone but It’s brave if you do. After a while, you do start to feel better and you see that your life starts to happen. The projects you want to do with people that you want to work with starts to happen more and more or at least happened in the ways that you are dreaming for yourself. Because you took the time to communicate with someone and make something really awesome happen together versus it not exists at all or it feels bad and toxic.
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems? M: I think things are still really restrictive and confining. I think society is still misunderstanding what it is to be a human being. I. I really don’t think we are exploring ourselves the way that we should be. I think we still have a lot of illusions about what the purpose of life is. I think we talk about what’s important and we try to remind ourselves that in family and self-care and expression. I think we talk about all of these things as being important but we’re not necessarily doing anything about it. Even when it comes to self-care right now it is a conversational piece at the moment and it is something that we’re exploring more but it reflects itself a lot in the way you take time for yourself, get your nails done or take a bath. What the fuck does that mean and how is that really going to help me because we’re not having the conversation of when you take that bath and you are relaxing and resetting. Think about your
your past. Think about who you are. Don’t be afraid of it explore yourself internally. We have technology and there are so many beautiful things that it should push forward but then again things start almost in that phase like Instagram was created to share moments photographic moments So it was giving everyone this really easy tool to kind of like express themselves and be creative in a way. Like yeah I’m just taking a picture of my food but you know maybe I’m going to try to do it so it looks pretty for people to look at and and that has gone so far away. Which is the same with so many other platforms but now it’s like mainly Instagram models and and yes there’s artists with profiles but you don’t get millions of followers and you don’t get recognized for what it is you’re creating. So we think that it automatically speaks to where society still is right now. We just don’t put value in rewarding expression. It’s still looked out as “Oh that
cool. The arts are fun. That’s really great that humans can do that”, but It’s almost looked at, in my opinion as like the jester in the court versus this is consciousness. The arts are celebrating in the most extreme ways what it means to be a conscious human being, what it means to feel and to be able to take those feelings and those thoughts and the ability to connect dots between things and express that in a really sometimes totally abstract way which is even more so celebrating consciousness. We still don’t value that the way that we should. It’s a disrespect for ourselves and a disrespect to the people we love, which to me when I say the people I love is everybody. I’m not saying like in a hippie way love everybody but it is a general love a general sense of care that you would want someone else to feel positive and not have pain as much as you know it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable in the sense of death is very confusing and
who knows at what point in history we’ll ever figure out what that really means to us, but in the meantime, we spend a lot of time creating pain to distract ourselves from that inevitable pain. I feel like we just don’t have our priorities straight. I think that’s why I’ll never stop fighting for the arts or fighting for people to learn to how to be creative in whatever form that they can. Even if they’re a businessman that does marketing how can that creatively release something for yourself? The general pains of what it means to be a human being which is just the pain of existing and being fucking confused about it all the time. No one has any idea you have beliefs and you have core thoughts that you navigate. Nobody does. No matter how hard they pretend that they do. And I think that as a society we are still so stuck on burying ourselves and burying the fear of not knowing and that I think is the core root that spreads itself out to everything.
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? M: I know it’s kind of annoying but I really think again it all goes back to fear and overcoming fear or at least standing up to it and trying to challenge yourself to walk through that fire. A lot of times it can feel like you’re on fire. And not limiting yourself. So for me I really didn’t start doing anything artistic for a really long time it was instinctual to me when I was younger and was always like a natural state of existence but I never actually did it. I thought that had to be a certain person or a certain 38
in order to be an artist and it’s total bullshit. It’s an illusion that somehow society has created. I think it’s bullshit that you have to be a certain way or even have a certain skill set in order to be an artist. And I think for some people. Yeah. Maybe you’re not going to become a graphic designer. You’re not going to become a painter. That doesn’t mean you should stop from figuring out that creative expression because it can also channel into marketing. It can also channel into other aspects and also I think that people tend to not recognize how much everything really is interconnected. There are so many artists that were either a biochemist first and
then they decided to be an installation artist or they were a psychologist and then they completely switched careers into art. Everything is so interconnected and reflective and I think that’s the most beautiful thing about art in general. There’s an abundance of avenues that you can take to figure out what fits with the person and the experiences that you’ve had in life. If you’re a computer programmer and you’re learning how to code websites well you could totally figure out how to code like an art piece it’s the same thing. If you are a psychologist it’s also something you could channel into creating an interactive installation and seeing how
how people can interact with each other. I think there are just endless avenues to explore and I think it’s just about starting somewhere. It all just comes down to starting. It’s just overcoming that fear and picking something, anything. Doesn’t matter what it is. Trying it. Seeing if you like it and if you don’t, completely scratch it and go to the opposite side. Go from that to something else from painting to woodworking and if you have a taste of something follow whatever that taste is.
Follow that path and keep experimenting and exploring never stopping no matter what you create. If it looks like shit it looks like shit, who cares at that point. The illusion is a joke because the whole spectrum of what it takes to become an artist isn’t always communicated either. What advice would give your younger self at your most difficult ? M: I think the biggest thing that I would tell myself in the
past is to basically expedite the process of growing as a human being. To just face my demons early as soon as you’re feeling them and face the fear of myself faster. If I had done that at an earlier point I feel like I would have healed sooner or been in the process of healing faster and also expressing myself more purely or more authentically. 39
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? J: What makes me? I’m a multi-instrumentalist. I can play pretty much anything, most genres I can get into as well. I’m also a truck driver that’s how I keep the lights on at home because can’t make money with my music yet. Not that I’ve tried, but I’m on my way trying to get there. I got into music when I was twelve years old my dad bought me a guitar. I took guitar classes in high school and from there my knowledge on music and theory, basically everything that I know from music came from that one thing. I got really obsessed with just making music and buying gear and having built a pretty formidable studio by the time I got out of high school. Soon as I graduated I pretty muchpacked everything. It
packed everything. It was kind of easy to just pack up and go because everything at home was like falling apart. My parents were getting divorced and my dad pretty much got caught cheating. So after high school that kind of helped me leave everything behind. It taught me that there are some people in your life that aren’t good for you there was a lot of that my in my life. I have a little brother and a little sister, my mom was taking care of them and she was gonna move back and I didn’t want to go with them cause I knew that that would stifle my life. I feel bad for doing that in retrospect, I look back on that like fuck I kind of just, “abandoned” them. Some people might look at it that way but I knew that she was gonna be fine. I took off to L.A. I took everything I had, my studio my drums, and guitars and everything and
it into a studio apartment in Koreatown. It was me, my friend, and his girlfriend we didn’t get along so that didn’t last for too long within half a year everything kind of fell apart. That was one of my one of the first of many mistakes that I’ve made in my life that kind of shaped who I am. I packed everything up came back to El Paso. Once you’re out of high school and you’re out of your parents’ house shit gets kind of real and like you have to work all the time. Most of my friends are still living at their parents and I was crashing at different homies houses. I kind of envied them because their parents had secured like a good home base for them where they can go to school and not have to pay rent or anything like that. And most of them were kind of nice enough to house me and stuff. That kind of didn’t last too long either. After getting kicked out of multiple households. I finally saved up enough to get my own place I had an uncle rent me a house. This was a really bad part of town. A month into living in that place it got flooded. I lived right behind an above ground ditch. One day while I was at work it collapsed and all the water got into my house and it destroyed my whole music studio that I had worked for in high school. I’ve always had kind of shitty luck.
What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally? J: It’s like a struggle between my comfort and exploring more also time. Not having enough time to do what I want because I got so used to a level of comfort. I was never this comfortable I used to have fun struggling, back then I didn’t fucking like it but in retrospect, it kind of made me an interesting person to myself. In my head, I should be doing something which is my art and my music but then with my job as a truck driver it’s very time-consuming. And I’ve kind of given my time to other people when I should have saved some for myself. I’m still trying to figure out to get back some more time and get to where I really want to be because yes, this comfort is nice but it’s not what I want. It’s not the end all be all. With my job, I’m by myself all the time. I’ve missed out on a lot. I don’t get to see people I love much as I want to see them. And then I get home and I forget how to be a human with them and I get so caught up in being by myself to the point where I forget how to talk to people sometimes. When you’re on the road a lot you can’t get involved with anybody romantically the way you’d want to. It’s hard
vulnerable with people on the road. As humans, I don’t think we’re meant to be by ourselves for that long. It could make you fucking lose your head sometimes. You get into these rabbit holes and in a way it’s cool and then sometimes you discover something new about yourself, but most of the time it makes you depressed. I’m usually longing to see the people I love when I get home and my schedule doesn’t necessarily align with all of my friends so I don’t get to see them all and when I have free time and that’s hard. Sometimes I feel like my friends think I don’t care about them because I’m also not a really communicative person. I don’t reply to text messages fast or I forget I even got messages from them you know. I hate feeling that they may think that. I know most of them don’t. There’s still that one thing just bugs you in the back of your head. I haven’t been able to see my family in a while. All that stems from just being by myself for so long for such an extended amount of time and I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with that.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? J: I look at it as it guides me when I’m feeling like I have nowhere else to go. I don’t think much about it. I just start playing and just the act of playing leads me somewhere I would never imagine going to. So that just in my head helps me like feel like I’m not stagnant and helps kind of relieve all the pressure and anxiety. Especially when you’re just experimenting. The thing about music with me is that I don’t use it as a comfort it’s more to get out of my comfort zone. I feel like I live kind of cushioned now and I don’t like that. It takes me into the unfamiliar it cramps my hands. I’d make a movement where my hands get knotted up and I’m just like, “Oh shit how’d I do that
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems? J: Societies pretty negative right now. I feel like people talk too much about stuff they don’t know. Nobody knows how to really deal with emotions properly like, when whenever shit gets emotional it tends to go in the wrong direction. You can’t let society tell you how to deal with this. That’s how you get hate groups. When society tells you how to deal with your emotions people weaponize those emotions to bring out the worst in people.
that and why did that happen”. It raises questions that need more answering because just when I feel like I’ve hit a wall, music helps me get over that wall. It’s like a whole universe it’s never ending it shows me that there’s infinite growth. The minute you stop growing the that’s the minute you die inside. I’ve hit a lot of that where I feel like a can’t learn anymore, but you don’t always stay there. You get away from it and you come back. Music is pretty much a good analogy for the universe, it’s never-ending. Even though a lot of songs use the same chord progressions they don’t all use the same sounds or instruments. Stuff like that helps me know that this is something I could do forever and as long as I’m doing it I’m going to be okay mentally. 44
When dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? J: I used to think people were inherently selfish and I can’t be emotionally vulnerable to people because they all have their problems. That’s was what I thought empathizing was, “Don’t fucking hit anybody with your bullshit because they got their bullshit.” I do acknowledge that’s not right. You do have to try and help people even if you can’t, you have to at least listen, see where they’re coming from. Don’t push people further into their bullshit because it is possible that they’re trying to be real with you and you’re writing them off. If you can’t help it’s best to tell them you can’t. Refrain from being an asshole, don’t drag people down and they won’t drag you down.
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? J: Just try something. Pick up an instrument, start drawing, or read a good book. Just try getting out of your head. Anything that gets you out of your head is good for you because in doing stuff that is established you’ll discover something new about yourself. You’ll discover what you’re good at and what you suck at and you’ll discover new meaning to your life.
What advice would give your younger self at your most difficult ? J: My most difficult time was probably when I lost my whole studio. I thought that all my dreams everything I worked for was finished. During that time I would tell myself that you still got it. You’re never going to lose it. Everything that I really was passionate about you know everything I got good at a very young age never goes away. I tell myself not to stress out so much. Put down the booze and don’t waste money on bullshit. Once I got the job I pretty much restored the studio I had and more in less time than I thought it would take. Just keep at it never stop. 45
Tell the readers about yourself what makes you, you? E: What makes me me i guess Im a poor girl so I have to be a hard working so that makes me have to work and be responsible. Im 26 I work at Mandalay bay and I draw for an architect its just wall details im kind of there my foot is half way in . Im a family girl I love my mom I’m close to her shes like my best friend. Im really close to my younger brother we’re like always next to each other. Oh! im mexican so im spicy arriba! Being mexican its a whole different vibe everybodys very united so family is very important to me.
What are some troubles in your life and how do you deal with them emotionally? E: The biggest challenge right now is that I’m 26 and I’m not where I want to be. I expected to be way further in life. Already living outside of Las Vegas, and being an architect, already like halfway married. Dealing with it emotionally I try to bury it in the back of my head but then sometimes it does come forward so I just sit there and I think. I’ll usually just talk to my mom and she brings me back. That’s probably the biggest challenge that I have right now. Of course, it brings a lot of sadness and self-doubt. So I just try to be okay. It’s not like I’m just sitting there doing nothing I’m actually working towards it, I’m not stuck I’m actually working for my dream. I try to stay positive about where I’m at and not try to compare
When dealing with other peoples emotions how do you empathize and relate to them? myself to other people my age. I mean I am always like fuck I’m almost 30. I’m probably not going to be graduating till I’m 30 what am I going to do? I deal with it by not thinking about it so much but then I have to think about it because that’s what keeps me going.
E: I would say I’m not that pessimistic or optimistic. I’m more of a realist. In reality, does this shit really matter and sometimes it doesn’t it and I feel like when something bad happens to people they just stay stuck in it, but you gotta keep on keeping on. I like to listen to people and then just try to be realistic. I try to think about people’s situation be real about the situation and not so pessimistic or optimistic and let them reflect.
How does your artistic expression keep you well? E: I really like to like go out and actually sketch and do stuff like that. Sometimes if I’m feeling down or something I draw a lot and then I realized I used to draw really dark shadows with no color in my drawings. Now I started to add color to my drawings and my sketching, so I feel like that brought a lot of life into my drawings and it makes me feel a lot happier. I look at my drawings I’m like oh my gosh why is that so gloomy. I love color now I used to hate color but I think that may be because using color is really hard as well when you’re an artist. Brought me way out of my comfort zone I used to be like but it’s black it has to be black. I mean as an artist I kind of have to think about color and it brings happiness to me now. 49
How do think society effects the way people around you deal with their emotional problems? E: I feel like everything is very like controversial right now. We joke about everyone’s offended but it’s true because I feel like there’s something behind that. People are feeling this way because the way other people are being treated. Even me as a Mexican I feel like people who are Mexican are kind of ashamed of being Mexican now. I’m a light Mexican so I’m pretty sure I have some other type of blood in me but I don’t claim that. People might be ashamed of being Mexican because we’re so stereotyped and looked down upon. Everyone is just really judging. People think that people’s opinions matter but I think it doesn’t. 50
What advice would you give someone thats having a hard time expressing themselves and finding an expression? E:I have a co-worker who’s always like, “but I’m not artistic like you I’m not creative.” I tell her there must be something you like and then she tells me how she likes to dye her cousin’s hair. Well, there you go why don’t you pursue that. I tell people to start looking around, the world is big you can do whatever you want. Find something interesting to do other than just binge-watching Netflix which I’m guilty of.
What advice would give your younger self at your most difficult ? E: Ok, so my most difficult times it was probably dealing with relationships. I was in with my ex-boyfriend. I think that I would give myself the advice of leaving him because where I was at then, I kind of put my dreams on hold just because I was insecure and felt like he was the only person in the world you know. There’s not just one person in the world, there’s more to it than that. I would probably be a lot further.
I don’t want to blame just that because I was young. Stop being so stupid and really focus on school, stop taking one or two classes. Go to school full time because I feel like that kind of backed me up a bit. I used to be very insecure then and my mom would always say, “Why don’t you look at yourself with different eyes?” Now I do I look at myself differently. Then I would probably listen to that advice my mom was giving me and actually start loving myself and not comparing myself to everyone’s lives. 51
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