Q: How are you feeling in your life right now?
Amazing. I really feel connected to myself at the moment. I’ve just been away from a year, and I’ve had the most amazing experiences. I think I’ve just realised what I really love in the past year and now I’m focusing my future on what that is.
Q: What have you learnt about yourself in the past year?
I think living in New York made me a tougher person. It definitely taught me to be more understanding of others. It’s taught me a lot about being independent, that certain skills can be gained through hardship and being alone and forced to do things on your own and sort things out by yourself. After New York, I went to South America for two months which was incredible. It was in the complete opposite world of New York. I was out in nature, completely off the grid. It brought me happiness because it made me realise that that’s what I love in life. Even though I’d been in NYC and gained all these skills, now I realise that I love being off the grid and in nature. That’s where I’m most happy.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your self-acceptance journey.
Yes. It’s been a long ride! I think it took me a long time to accept myself for who I am. To accept that all my weird flaws are part of who I am. All my personality traits, how I look, how I present myself, what I choose to wear, why I don’t like to do things that other people like to do, that is all part of being myself and acknowledging that everyone is different.
Q: How did you come to that awareness?
Around 5 years ago, I went through a really bad breakup. I wanted to change my whole life because I was really lost. I was feeling super alone. I didn’t really have anyone there as an outlet to talk to about my emotions. I always felt like the outcast when I was surrounded by other people. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. And then, I met this really amazing girl that I used to work with at a shoe store. She was telling me about yoga, she did it every day. She said that I should just go to a few classes and see how I felt. I never really thought it was for myself. I went to a couple of classes and it was instant. I felt at home. I was welcomed into a new community.
From there, I really focused on the things that make me happy and not to shut off certain personality traits. Stop dressing to impress other people, stop straightening your hair, stop wearing makeup, and all these things that I was just doing for the sake of it. Now I know that being myself is when I’m 100% natural and raw. I think that’s when I’m most happy.
Also, starting to talk about my emotions more openly really helped. Everyone is struggling, everyone has something to say and a story to tell. So if you just talk to others and communicate it helps you understand that you’re not alone.
Prior to that, I was very close-minded. I was very out of touch with my emotions. I pushed all of my feelings to the side and focused on the surface-level of things, which is so unhealthy. I was a very shut-off person. I rejected anything that I was unfamiliar with. I wasn’t open to new experiences. I wasn’t understanding towards other people. It was like only my biased opinion really mattered.
Q: Why do you think you were so close-minded and shut-off from your emotions?
I think because I was brought up in a very privileged environment. I was around other privileged people and I wasn’t taught about other cultures and other ways of life. I think travelling really broadens your perspective on so many things. Especially when you backpack and travel by yourself, you get so many different perspectives on life. You learn to understand that everyone is so different, and you’re from this amazing city and are given so many things.
When you’re part of that bubble, it makes you closed minded. You really need to go and reach out, get out of your comfort zones, push yourself, meet new people, share new experiences and stories with people. It’s how you can expand.
Q: Surprising that you say you always felt like an outsider because it seems to me like you always had a lot of friends.
I did but I still felt like I had different interests with a lot of people that I grew up with. It was something that I really tried to shut off because people didn’t really encourage me. I think the thing about being really emotionally open and creative is that you need to be around other people that are creative and emotionally aware so that you can have these conversations and inspire other people.
Q: What would happen when you would express your authentic self?
I would express it and it would kind of be shut down. So I’d just be like, ‘oh okay I guess I’m weird’. They would just laugh. It was also a group mentality thing. They would want to do other things and I was not interested in what they wanted to do. They wanted to wear certain things, or had different opinions about people, or would be judgmental towards others. To me, I always felt that I was excluded. I didn’t want to be part of it.
It is a major issue, bitchiness. Especially when you’re growing up. It’s so hard to break that cycle. It’s so toxic. When you’re brought up at a private school, an all-girl-school as well, there is so much bitchiness that goes on. So to break from that is one thing. But to actually find yourself from that is a whole other thing.
Q: What was it like to take that first step away from what you’d been conditioned from?
I feel like I’ve had so many self-awakenings. My first one was when I went through that breakup. I turned to yoga and being spiritual as a way to get my mental state back and be more in touch with myself.
From there, I thought really deeply about what I loved. Even just the smallest things like plants. And then I would explore that and surround myself with plants. Or like, the beach. I would go to the beach all the time and collect shells. I think that’s a really good way to self develop. Really focus on the small things that make you happy and surround yourself with them. That’s when you can start to tap into finding positivity in anything.
Q: What was an insecurity you had when you were younger?
I guess the same as so many other people - body image, my hair. My hair was my biggest insecurity. I hated my hair. I would straighten my hair every single day from year 7 to year 12. Every single day. I had permanent straightening. I did everything I could to hide the fact that I had insane hair. And now it’s my favourite thing in the world! I haven’t straightened my hair in three years. It’s really funny looking back at that. Because that to me was such an insecurity and now it’s one of my biggest traits that I have. And I’m so proud of it.
Q: How did you overcome that insecurity?
When I started to do yoga, I learnt to accept everything in its natural state as opposed to forcing something superficial on top of it. And then when I went through this breakup I cut my hair off and just had a fresh start. It was exactly what I needed. I started to put a lot less effort into how I looked. I stopped caring about what other people thought about me. It was such an effort to straigthen my hair every day. It took me like two hours!
Q: When do you feel most vulnerable?
When I speak about my emotions and opinions openly. And when other people aren’t understanding. I guess it’s when I come across people that are really stubborn and close-minded. Then I’ll voice my opinions and it’ll just not be taken in the way that I would like it to be taken. I speak about my emotions when I want other people to speak about their emotions. So when they don’t give it back to me, I think that’s when I feel most vulnerable. And quite frustrated as well.
Q: When do you feel most beautiful?
When I am 100% myself which is just being me, all natural, no makeup, curly hair, wearing clothes that I love, being around people that I love, being in nature, listening to good music, reading a good book. Doing weird things, because I’m a weirdo and I love being weird. And I’m not ashamed of that!
Q: How did you become so accepting your uniqueness?
I’ve always been weird. I’ve always been a very weird person. I think that was what made me so closed off because I was weirder than other people. But then you meet weirder people than you and you’re like ‘fuck they’re weirder people out there, and you’re not even that weird.’ But being weird makes me happy because it’s my way of expressing myself in a really random and unique way. So I love it.
Q: How do you define self-acceptance?
Accepting yourself for who you are, all your weird flaws and traits and understanding that everyone is different so you can’t compare yourself to anyone! Which I think is really hard especially during this time where you see everyone’s lives on social media. It is something I remind myself when I’m feeling down. Just reminding myself that ‘you are you and that’s the most beautiful thing and it’s the rarest thing that you can have.’
Q: What does it mean for you to be fully empowered?
Being proud of who you are. I think that comes from being around really supportive and encouraging people. It is about cutting out toxic people from your life. It’s needed. Because if you’re around toxic people you don’t feel empowered, you feel the opposite. So I guess empowerment comes from within yourself, but it also comes from the influences in your life. So if you find or meet really empowered, emotionally open people, cling onto them! And never let go.
Sam wears the YOGA tee and the MEDITATION tee.