The Year of SELF: A Photo Story and Reflection


They say there are two sides to every story, but I don’t believe it as true. I believe, there are infinite sides of countless stories that make up our existence.

Long ago, as a little girl, I remember watching my grandmother farm in our family’s village, telling myself that I was going to grow up to be one of the best farmers. I focused all my energy on being that, and so, I started to join my male cousins on the hunt, and the women in the swamps and rice fields. It was a crisp Friday afternoon when I shot my first bird mid-flight using a rubber gun. How savory was the GB soup it was cooked into that evening.

In another story, I was still a girl, but in another setting, watching my mother create and sell every and anything she could to make our lives worth living. I watched her tie-dye stained hands sew batik designs and sell to women after church on Sundays. Then during the week, she’d crochet home décor and other collectables for sale in her college classrooms. Then on Saturdays, she’d bake cookies and other delectables we’d sell (or eat) throughout the days ahead. An entrepreneur she is, that woman. Give her sand in a desert, and she’d sell it.

In the stories that came after, I am both the farmer and the entrepreneur. Planting and watering my seeds, setting my traps for the hunt, while using my hands to weave through life’s unexpected journeys. As each seed flourished and each thread weaved, a new journey which required precise maneuvers began. The journey has not, is not, and will not be easy, but I am ready. It was engraved in me to be ready from my mother’s eyes and tongue which I inherited, to my father’s hands and name.

Many genres of stories in countless pages later, here I find myself in the most self-aware state I have experienced. But… there is still so much to learn. So much to unpack. So much to accept. So much to renounce. So much to explore.

The new year is here, and although I believe time as a construct, I welcome the new energy and chance to shed my skin anew. My current story has not come to an end, but I look forward to the exciting new plot twists, chapters, endings, and beginnings.

A Series of Portraits exploring The Year of SELF.

Styling, Creative Direction, Model: Karkay Adrienne Tingba

Photography, Creative Direction: Brian Caroll (BC Visuals)

Get you a girl who can do it all…

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