Exactly one year ago I rode my awkward old Raleigh two-speed bike to the Wellington Library. Despite it almost being summer, the New Zealand capital was cold and windy, and I ordered a flat white while staying bundled in my big down jacket and scarf.
I sat at a table in the library cafe and pulled out a drawing pad. I had no idea what I was doing — just playing around with pen and paper, like usual — and sketched the first-ever #atwildwoman.
In case you are unfamiliar, here is a bit on who the #atwildwoman is:
She’s happiest in the mountains or by the sea. She doesn’t run from her heart, she listens to it. If you burn her to the ground she will rise from the ashes every time.
She’s in no hurry. She can be restless. Her hair is usually messy and heart so big. She will never beg you to stay. She knows everything will be okay.
Her real home is deep in the forest. She takes her coffee black. She’ll wake before the sun one day and dance until it comes up the next.
She searches for truth. She doesn’t need your validation. She can be a loner, but if you see the fire within her, she’ll be the most loyal companion you could ever find.
After that first drawing I felt a huge personal shift. I pictured what it'd be like to travel solo. I took it upon myself to explore the outdoors without my boyfriend. I spent 30 days drawing the #atwildwoman in different shapes and sizes and discovered she wasn't just one person, but a spirit of gumption and wildness that lives in all women. And I learned her existence may not be apparent, but she’s there, perhaps covered under layers of stories, half-truths, and fear.
So much has happened since that day in the library. I moved back to the US, became single again, built out a minivan and lived in it for half the year, dealt with depression and anxiety, and continued uncovering my artistic voice.
I don't think I've fully realized the impact of the the last year. Surely I will be unpacking the lessons for months and years to come, but..
Here are 24 quick bits I've learned over the past year of creating the #atwildwoman.
- When something makes you feel, follow it no matter what.
- Some friendships aren’t meant to last forever.
- Never feel embarrassed for being ‘too much’. Be proud to go all in.
- Internet and long-distance friends are lovely, but a real life community is crucial.
- Death is inevitable, and truly living is optional.
- You don’t have to quit your job or constantly be on the move to live spectacularly.
- There is no shame in depression, anxiety, or any other mental issues. Awareness and acceptance will help them lose their grip on you.
- You don’t NEED a man (or woman), but it’s okay to want one.
- Don’t waste your time forcing what isn’t flowing.
- You don’t have to be afraid to be a woman alone in the world.
- Trust your instincts about everything, especially people.
- Be careful projecting your hopes for a relationship onto someone. They are not necessarily that person you're hoping for.
- It’s okay to work less and earn less. You can also work less and earn more.
- Lots of little things turn into big things. Just start.
- Keep at least one art form ‘sacred’ — don’t focus on profiting from it. Just do it for the love.
- Visualization is one of the most powerful practices in crafting a life you love. Do it every day.
- Fear lives under hate. Dig deeper.
- Ego isn’t to be fought, but embraced.
- It’s important to have relationships and conversations with people who aren’t just like you.
- You deserve to realize that you can do the thing you want to do.
- Trust is essential to happiness.
- Holding on is a kind of poison.
- You can’t always think your way into the right decision. You’re going to have to just start at some point.
- Burning things down is easy, building them up is hard.
I would love to hear if you've been following along since the first #atwildwoman. What does she mean to you? Has she impacted your life in some way? Feel free to share below.
And as always, thank you so much for your constant support over the years!