While I was living in the UK, the two blogs I read daily were those of Canadian photographer Anastasia Chomlack and American photographer Ashley Ann Campbell. (I recently wrote about the impact that her blog, and particularly their adoption journey, has had on my life.)
In one of her posts Anastasia wrote about a book called Style Statement.
The idea fascinated me – I love quizzes in any form and my favourite thing about keeping a journal is being able to read back through it later, so this book seemed just up my alley. But it ended up having a far more profound effect than I could have imagined…
It takes you through various aspects of your life like Relationships + Communication, Spirit + Learning, Creativity + Celebration and Body + Wellness, asking questions about both the positive and negative aspects of each. You write down your answers and at the end of each section you have an opportunity to filter and interpret your answers. In the end you take your answers and refine them further, until you have the two words that make up your style statement.
I realise this sounds pretty self-indulgent and introspective. And it is.
But here’s the funny thing… As I started thinking about my answers, I realised how often I adjust myself to fit how I thought others perceived me. (That’s the classic people pleaser for you.)
I was a South African living in the UK, so of course I should love summer – it certainly seemed all other South Africans and Australians did. And yet when I really thought about it, I didn’t. In fact, summer comes third on the list. And only because spring has hayfever. If it weren’t for the constant sniffles, spring would easily push summer to the bottom of the pile.
Fact is, I love autumn and winter! I love freezing cold mornings. Snow makes me do major happy dances and nothing beats jumping in puddles in my Hunters wellies (green ones, like the Queen wears in the country).
So why on earth would I say summer? Because of some warped sense of what I thought other people might think I should be.
And that was the joy of this book. It made me verbalise who I am and what I think of myself. Not all of it was pretty, I can promise you…
And yet, when I look back at my answers over five years later, so much rings even truer now than it did then…
My dream home is:
A single storey house with a stoep on a farm. Maybe with a tin roof. It would almost be part of it’s natural surroundings with white walls and white floating curtains. (Except for the farm bit, check! And I never was all that good at milking cows anyway.)
My own form of special genius is:
My creativity applied in practical ways. (Pretty much word for word what the psychologist told me during my assessment for the adoption the other day. I did chuckle a little at that.)
If a world-famous photographer were going to take my portrait:
I would sit on the roof of the Landrover with my sisters and parents.
(Not taken by a famous photographer, but nevertheless my favourite photo – all the more precious because it was taken on what ended up being our last family holiday together in Namibia, three years before my dad passed away.)
My favourite time of year is:
Autumn, because I like the cool, crisp air. It evokes feelings of anticipation, excitement at the possibilities, a need for adventure. It makes me feel alive.
And as I took the photos, I spotted another one, in the middle of a paragraph, that rings the most true of all this year…
There you have it. Sometimes a bit of introspection isn’t a bad thing…
Photos | Elke Dunaiski