Emerging illustrator Matilda personifies parts of her identity in the transitory period of growing up.
Sadness: Growing up, I was a very sensitive child, I would practically cry at any and everything. I never really saw an issue with this, it told me when I didn’t like something and allowed me to let my feelings out. But as I grew into my tween years, I was shamed and mocked. I was told to toughen up and to stop being so childish. As I continued to grow, I began to hide my sadness, anxiety and stress. Being sensitive was something ‘bad’ and ‘weak’. It wasn’t until I entered college where I started to talk about my feelings more openly and allowed myself to be sensitive, to cry and to find support in my friends, family and in myself. I am sensitive and strong, it isn’t one or the other, not anymore.
Compassion: My love language has never been one to find comfort in the words “I love you”. It has always been something that I struggle to say, but in recent years I have learnt that it is okay to not say such a strong and powerful word as much as others do. My love language is physical touch and phrases like “Do you want to share this can of pop?” or “If you need to talk, I’m always available”, maybe even the occasional “That’s what best friends are for”. I hold my friends’ hands when they are scared or just need to know I’m there, I hug them for an awkward amount of time so no one will see them cry, I carry an extra charger because I always know they will forget theirs, I memorized their birthdays, so they always have a message to wake up to. I listen when they rant about their significant other and give the advice to help them through a tough day. I might not say “I love you”, but I care more than they think.
Confusion: Anyone who has ever met me, has probably heard me say something so dense it made their brain hurt. Heck, I would be surprised if I’ve never made someone rethink their entire life from some of the stuff that has left my mouth. I am not the smartest person in the world, I’m not even close. I’m practically confused about everything; taxes, how fish are real, which colours you mix to make green (I may have only recently learnt it is blue and yellow…) I was even confused at how bridges are made. But, through my entire life, I have yet to be more confused than the time I was questioning my sexuality and gender, fighting against something ingrained into my bone, into who I am, while simultaneously fighting against the forced CisHet lifestyle society is holding on to. I remember finally admitting to myself that having a label wasn’t necessary but fighting the urge to break down in tears because I had no idea who I was. It took me two years to admit proudly, that I was into girls and I am still trying to work out what my gender is. Discovering yourself is no quick nor easy task, I’m sure I could learn how to build a bridge faster. This idea that you wake up one day and just know if you like boys, girls or anyone in between, is nothing but a lie. Life is confusing for everyone but for some, it’s even more complex. Do not become that guy* that acts as they know it all but is still struggling to build that bridge.
Content: As I came to draw my fourth and final piece for this project, I hit something like a wall. I was trying so hard to come up with something new and original, I kept thumbnailing and just sketching whatever I could, but I had nothing. Until one night at roughly 2 am I was dancing in my family bathroom, to some song I can’t even remember. I stopped as the song came to end and looked in the mirror and asked myself “What am I feeling right now?” – I wasn’t overly happy nor was I holding back tears, I was simply at peace, I was content with everything. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than what was happening at that moment. It struck me then, that I’m not someone who is constantly happy, not that I’m mostly sad either, I’m rather just content. I’m happy with who I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Life isn’t always perfect, and I’ve had hardships in the past, but they have all added up to this point in my life where I can confidently say “I am Matilda Carrick”. I have a long way to go in finding out who I am or what I will do, but at this moment in time, I believe that I am a collage of feelings and emotions. I am not one thing but rather the reflection of the impact that others have had.