0:50 - Meet Hannah 3:23 - Hannah speaks about overcoming the feelings of insecurity and failure 9:36 - Hannah speaks about struggling with her own mortality and those of her loved ones 11:06 - Hannah and Jess discuss the positives to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic 20:04 - Hannah and Jess discuss the spiritual side to body modification 25:18 - Hannah and Jess sign-off with a conversation about the perks to septum piercings
"We're all the main characters in our own lives. Everything else that's going on is sort of just background noise.”- Hannah
Jessica: Hello, friends! I hope you're doing well. Today, I get the chance to sit down with writer, artists and around amazing person, Hannah. I first met Hannah at P.F Chang's, where we both worked our way up from back waiters to servers and here we are three years later, a lot more wise, and I'm holding an endearing sore spot for the place our friendship started. So Hannah, why don't you start by telling me a little bit about yourself?
Hannah: Well, I'm Hannah. Right now, I work from home as a Data Manager, but in my spare time, I love being outside and I like taking photos, writing about feelings mostly and just taking advantage of what the world has to offer, although not right now, but-
Jessica: Taking advantage of what the world has to offer from inside.
Hannah: Yes, right now or indefinitely.
Hannah: We all.
Jessica: When I started this series, this series is all about personal transformation, encouragement and empowerment and I instantly thought of you because of your blog Rootlessly where you dive into really all of that for myself, perspective introspective, reflection, perspective, there's a lot of perspectives. But I was reading through your blog last night as I was preparing for this interview, and I really liked what you wrote in January's post, I think it was the Forward blogpost and you wrote that you're writing about fears and so I thought that it would be a really great use of this space, especially since we're in this time where a lot of people are experiencing a lot of fear. I was reflecting on COVID and what everyone's reactions are, and it's grief, and from grief comes fear and anger and just associating and depression and all of that and I think that you have a lot to say on the matter. I think you've done a lot of thinking on the matter and a lot of talking on the matter and what I really liked was when you wrote "My biggest fear used to be that nothing I ever did would be good enough for the people around me. I was terrified to let people in; terrified that people would see my “ugly” side and hate me for it. I overcame that fear by letting people in anyway." A sneak peek for anyone who wants to read this afterwards is then you went and you flipped it and you said, "Now, I’ve realized that my biggest fear is that nothing I ever do will be good enough for myself." And that is a pretty powerful statement.
Jessica: Do you mind sharing a little bit about that journey? Because I think there's a lot of people who are stuck in that "I'm afraid of what people will think," to then flipping it and being like, "No, I'm worth enough that. I'm more afraid that I won't live up to my own expectations."
Hannah speaks about overcoming the feelings of insecurity and failure
Hannah: Yeah, so I mean, part of that journey was having to overcome because I definitely have very high expectations of myself as most of us do. We, most of us do have higher expectations of ourselves than we do of other people so after a lot of reflecting I thought about when I see people doing cool stuff, I'm not looking at the little mistakes or I'm not absurd. I guess I'm not honing in on the tiny details of what everybody does when they do things because, I mean, I have my own life to worry about so once I realized, Oh, I'm not alone in this, other people are more focused on their own lives than they are on what mistakes I'm making. There's sort of this liberating feeling of like, oh! okay, so I'm not being put under a microscope, probably by most people and if I am, they obviously have nothing better to do with their time.
Jessica: But cut-off when you said you're not under a microscope for most people.
Hannah: Yeah. So once I sort of realized that, for the most part, of course, those are the exceptions of people who need to nitpick, to feel okay with themselves, which is more of a reflection of themselves than me. I realized, wow! for the most part, people don't really care what mistakes I'm making. So unless it's directly impacting or hurting them so it was definitely a big shift and noticing that a lot of that fear came from my own over criticism of myself thinking that Oh! because I am hyper aware of every mistake I made, there must mean that everybody else is too, well that's not really the case and I know that I mean, I grew up with a lot of really high achieving people so I was around seeing all that, it's like, why? do I have to be like that! And then sort of coming to realize that, no, I don't. I don't have to do that. I can do whatever I want. I got one life. So yeah -
Jessica: That's awesome! I think that's a really wise perspective and it takes a lot to come to that conclusion because it's really hard to not, I get stuck in that all the time like, oh! my hair sticking up, people are probably noticing that my hair is going like this, or Oh! I said the wrong word. I'm sure everyone's focusing on that or I hope I didn't hurt someone's feelings when I said this.
Jessica: It's hard to get out of that mindset, I guess.
Hannah: Yeah, it really is because I guess, if I'm noticing these things, everybody else must be. When you sort of flip the script, and you're like, Oh, well, I mean, when you think about it, you're really not paying that much attention to what other people are doing because I mean, this is such a cliche, but we're all the main characters in our own lives so it's like, everything else that's going on is sort of just background noise and that's sort of how a lot of other people are going through their lives too. So it's kind of relieving and it's also this like, really nice form of solidarity because we're all trying to figure out how to live and be okay with it.
Jessica: It's true. I almost feel like that's more of a reality in everyone's mind since the COVID outbreak, because I feel in society, there's a lot of like, you put success as the highest form and what success look like - success looks like the best job, the most essential job, it looks like, put together makeup and hair all the time or like you have the best car or for some people success is not that but I feel like a lot of culture is shifting to what does it look like to be successful in COVID. I think it is to have friends and to talk to one person that's not your dog, or to have a dog.
Jessica: Sometimes my success is, I got up and I put jeans on and I was not leaving the house.
Hannah: Yeah, for sure. Everything's day by day right now so not even knowing what the world is going to look like, a month from now, six months from now. It's sort of kind of paralyzing a little bit because it's like, well, how am I supposed to plan for anything or how am I supposed to move forward when I don't even know what the world's gonna look like? Is my life gonna be the same in six months? Is somebody I know going to get COVID and not make it? It's just so scary to have to live in this reality and try to figure out how to live and do the things you're supposed to do every day without being weighed down by that fear all the time, kind of like puts into perspective what's important at the end of the day, like what is the most important and it's sort of this big defining moment of, Oh! so this is what really matters. It's definitely been I know, for me, it's been a wild journey to figure that out.
Jessica: Yeah. Do you want to talk a little bit about that journey? Share as much as you feel comfortable sharing, but what has that journey look like for you?
Hannah speaks about struggling with her own mortality and those of her loved ones
Hannah: It kind of started where I was realizing--because my dad has a lot of comorbidities and he's in New York, but he's upstate, so hopefully, it won't be so bad. He smokes and he's pushing 60 so I'm like, Oh! Well, I haven't seen him since August so I'm like, well, this is terrifying and then that takes you to the, well, I'm gonna die someday. I was just like, which we all know but nobody wants to talk about it and then I was like totally just I like lost it for four days and I was anxious all the time and I had to think in it. When you're sitting there thinking about that, and it's hard in a time like this because usually when you think about that, and we all think about it sometimes, you go and you do a life giving activities, something that makes you feel life is worth living or life is what it's about, I guess. And right now, we can't really do that because at least here, everything's closed, you can't go on a trail you can't, unless you're trying to trespass but-
Jessica: Not recommended by Avanti. Don't try that.
Hannah: Would not, you could get, they're fining people now apparently, but-
Jessica: [inaudible 11:04-11:06]
Hannah and Jess discuss the positives to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic
Hannah: Yeah. So having to really sit with those thoughts was, I wouldn't recommend it, but it was really rough and then it got me thinking I was like, well, okay, assuming that I make it through all of this in one piece, in order to feel like what I'm doing everyday has meaning, what do I need to accomplish really? What is the most important to me? What have I been doing that is not useful in terms of making a meaningful life, whatever that means to me or whoever and how do I change my life to be what I envisioned it to be and what would bring meaning to me and when you're sitting there thinking about like, Oh, well, I'm not going to be alive forever. You can't escape that and you have to, It's such a like a clarifier, it's just crystal clear like, this is what's important to me and I think about all the things that I've always put off and you think you have time, you think that we put all the best things off for some mystical someday in the future, when all of a sudden we're realizing, oh, no, we might not have that. So it's definitely been eventful, it'd be a good term for that and at this point, I feel like I'm definitely a lot more comfortable with that idea. I mean, as comfortable as anybody can be, but at least knowing that after this, I hope or I don't even want to hope because hope is not action. I intend to create a life that's more in line with what I value and not do things that aren't serving that for me.
Jessica: Yeah, first, thank you for sharing that perspective and I can relate to that, too. I think I have spent a lot of time thinking about my impending doom as well and it is very clarifying, and as an artist myself, I've thought about, okay, so I created art. My last project, not client work, but my last actual project was in 2017 and it's now 2020 and I spent the last three years talking away little inspirations, like oh, I'll get to that when I have time, Oh no! I'll spend more time with my family when I have time, Oh, please! Can I just get a life pause so I have some time and here we are in this life pause and I'm like, Okay, now what? Like I asked.
Hannah: Yeah, it's definitely rough and I feel like there's probably so many more of us going through the same thing too right now and it's like this unifying moment...kind of wild.
Jessica: And super wild. You know at Avanti, Avanti actually means to move forward, which is really interesting and I think, isn't that cool? I like the word. It's an Italian word, which I didn't know when I started working here. I love Italy for anyone who doesn't know. I was like, Oh! it's Italian, and it means to move forward and you actually, I worked with you and we were just becoming friends. I think when I came here, for the first time I got my septum pierced.
Tether Jewelry | 'Rift' Septum Cuff
Tether Jewelry | 'Chevronelle' Septum Cuff
Hannah: Yeah, I did remember that.
Jessica: I remember making a big stink about it because I kept sneezing and touching my nose and going, Oh, no! I got my septum pierced.
Hannah: Yeah, I remember that.
Jessica: I thought so cool but what's been bringing into perspective for me during this time when the salons are closed, we can't do piercings and we can't like a lot of the transformation processes that I've done to feel more like me, are stripped away and they're not available right now and I'm curious what advice you would give to someone who, you know, their bravery comes from modifying their own body? From dyeing their hair, or doing fancy makeup looks. You talk a lot about on your Facebook page and on your blog, you talked a lot about pouring into other people and toxic positivity and things like that and how it's okay to just be you. I was really curious, when the masks are slipped away and the pieces and the tools are taken away to cosmetically look like you, how would you recommend nurturing your soul to feel like you?
Hannah: I mean, I think it looks different for everybody because we all have our own things that make us feel comfortable and safe. I sort of been thinking about this time, because I know I have been out here looking like a potato for weeks and it's almost, it really depends. It just depends on what each of us individually need. I know that this has definitely been a really interesting journey of learning how to love myself as I am without being able to, I want to cut my hair so bad. I really do and I'm refraining so hard and just like learning how to appreciate who you are on more of a soul level, I think and being able to nurture yourself as you are in this moment is super important for getting through times like this and partaking in self-care in any way that works for you, whether it's a face mask or whatever else or going for a run or sitting outside or whatever you need to make yourself feel good, because we're all in this really strange, traumatic moment, and we have to figure out how to care for ourselves through it, because that's how we're going to get through it.
Jessica: It's true. I liked those posts that you shared, because I think that it's very true in the midst of this, it's what you feel is okay regardless of what that is. I look at my emotions in a day and I start out really happy in the morning. I have a panic attack around lunch, and then I'm depressed until dinner and then I'm fine again.
Jessica: And I know, I'm not the only one feeling that way.
Jessica: But I also know that it's okay and I think that wrestling with your identity is okay and wrestling with yourself is okay and I think that, to anyone who's listening to this because I know our audiences are obviously, the modified community people with piercings or tattoos and things like that all stripped away and all you're left with is you. It's okay to fall in love with yourself and I think that's probably the most important thing that needs to be said.
Hannah: Yeah, and especially when we're going through those more negative experiences, we shouldn't feel like we have to ignore them, we shouldn't feel like that it's wrong to feel that way because somebody might have it worse or anything like that and a lot of-I know for me, and I think it's different for everybody, I tend to lean into feelings like that; sometimes to my own detriment, but going about that in a healthy way sometimes can help you see where feelings like that are coming from and why we're experiencing them and kind of help, pave the way for our own abilities to move forward and to be able to care for ourselves once we're on the other side of all this because at the end of the day, we have to be able to do that anyway and this is almost a very, very intense Crash Course in How to Nurture Myself 101.
Hannah and Jess discuss the spiritual side to body modification
Jessica: Yeah, I agree. There's a very spiritual side to body modification to piercing and I think that if anything this time, because I know when the doors, the doors were like, we had to line out the door right before we shut down. Actually, I think we were the first shop in Portland to close our doors to the public and it was just crazy how many people were pouring in and I know it's going to be the same afterwards so I almost want to encourage our listeners because I'm in all the forums and I see everyone posts like what should I get pierced in? What's your opinion of me? I almost want to ask them, what's your opinion of yourself? What do you want? When you're asking, will, this looks good on me, well what do you think looks good on you? Because that's all that really matters.
Jessica: I know you have your nose pierced. So before I let you go and enjoy your work day. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about that because when I worked with you, you were a very discreet little. I think it was a glass piece. Was it a glass piece of your nose?
Hannah: Definitely, I've changed a lot. I definitely went for the regular rolls, stud in the nose, kept it basic but mostly, I did that because I didn't know I could put anything else there. I didn't realize anything else would fit because it's so high up on my nose and with work, I didn't know that if it was acceptable.
Hannah: I know that definitely part of my decision and even deciding to do that was definitely like, rebellion because I mean, I was always a good kid so I was like, alright, and I wanted to get a tattoo but my mom, because I was still living with my mom and she was like, No, and I was like, well I'm gonna pierce my nose then and she's like, yeah, whatever, that's fine and so that was the first thing I did that was because I was in college. So I was living independent of my parents and I was like, alright like, I was with them during the summers, but when I was away, I was like, oh, how can I reclaim my independence and it felt really like empowering to be able to just do that and I don't know, I felt I was embracing my very soft edge of yourself very slight. It was really empowering, so it was definitely good for my 18-year-old self to embark on that.
Jessica: Yeah. Well, traditionally, it's a coming of an age piercing, you're nostril piercing and we've adopted it in Western culture, and I feel like it's very much the same.
Jessica: Well, was me. I was 16 and I remember calling my dad because my mom was all about it. She has her nose pierced, but my dad's like, I don't like jewelry on people's faces and I remember calling him and be like, Dad, it's my body, come on and him be like, Okay.
Jessica: It was also that empowering like, I am a woman. I have my nose pierced, and I sat through that traumatic experience, which is not really traumatic.
Glasswear Studios | Diamond Cut Glass Plugs
14k Gold Nostril Nail
Jessica: At 16, I think I've built it up to be more of a bigger deal but yeah, you have your septum pierced as well, don't you?
Hannah: Yeah, that was not well received.
Hannah: That's for sure. It was I think 2016 and t was after I graduated college, and I was just like, alright, what's the next step? and I hid it for a while because I was like ---- and then when I moved here I decided well, that's not my vibe right now and then so I kept it, hidden in with work and everything like that. I didn't know because it's definitely on the East Coast, there's a really wildly different culture with piercing than there is here. It's a lot more well received in professional settings here than it is over there. I couldn't even--- when I worked in an office job, I couldn't have even just a stud. I had to put a clear stud in it because it wasn't acceptable at all. So it's definitely a wildly different culture and once I started to feel more comfortable with myself here, I was like, alright, I'm gonna embrace this again so there's definitely a different vibe, but when I was serving on the East Coast, I just did it and I was like, well, y'all gotta get used to it. Sorry but it was not well received, but it's my face.
Jessica: It is your face. I think you rock it. It looks really cute on you.
Hannah: Thank you!
Hannah and Jess sign-off with a conversation about the perks to septum piercings
Jessica: Yeah. And for anyone who doesn't know your septum, that's what I like about the septum piercing is it's like the mullet of face piercings. You can keep it up for business and you can put it down for party.
Hannah: Oh, yeah, yup.
Jessica: Well, I guess on that note, I will let you enjoy the rest of your day.
Hannah: All right!
Jessica: But thank you so much for your time, Hannah. I enjoyed getting to see you, first off. It's been a minute. Thank you.
Hannah: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share what's in the all noggin today.
Jessica: All right. Well, I hope we talk soon. Have a great day!
Hannah: You too!
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