The Stories We Tell

You are what you eat — a phrase we’ve undoubtedly heard countless times. A mom-endorsed slogan that, although over-used, still rings true. But we eat so much more than food. The media we read, the sights we see around us everyday, the experiences we feel, all of these things consume us too, or rather, we consume them. Like our food, these things sustain us, nourish us and can potentially harm us.

Unlike the food we eat, these less tangible things we consume are harder to categorize into good and bad. We might not immediately notice how what we read shapes our thoughts or how where we live molds our actions. It takes a higher level of reflection and analysis. It also takes awareness of our internal dialogue.

We are the stories we tell ourselves.

This is a sentiment that I keep seeing everywhere lately, and it has me taking a closer look at what I absorb on a daily basis. I wonder: what harmful words am I saying to myself? What problems am I causing myself? How am I standing in my own way?

If I’m truly a compilation of all of my sights, smells, visions, experiences and words, then I must ask myself what am I taking away from these things? How do I distill these ephemeral moments in my memory? What do I choose to remember? What do I choose to believe?

For me, traveling is a sure-fire way to shake things up. It allows me to reconsider my inner stories and to view things from a wider perspective. I see new environments and step into another language, another culture, another way of doing. As I go through images I captured from my time in Romania and The Netherlands, I try to remember how I felt when I took the image. I imagine how I thought about what I saw then and consider now how that experience affected me. Through this process, I hope to remind myself that even if I’m a product of my surroundings, it is ultimately up to me what I take away from them.

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