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Episode Highlights:

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

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"We're all the main characters in our own lives. Everything else that's going on is sort of just background noise." - Hannah

 

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Transcription:

Jessica: Hello, friends, I hope you're doing well. Today, I get the chance to sit down with writer,  artist, 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?

Meet Hannah
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-
Photo by Hannah Zelazny @zelaaaz
Jessica: Taking advantage of what the world has to offer from inside.
 
Hannah: Yes, right now or indefinitely.
 
Jessica: Yeah.
 
Hannah: We all.
 
Jessica: So 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, you know, 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, it was the I think it was like the Forward blog post 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, you know, just associating and depression and all of that and, you know, 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 you know, 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." But a sneak peek for anyone who wants to read this afterward 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 know that---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 how---when I see people doing cool stuff, I'm not looking at you know, the little mistakes or like, I'm not absurd. I guess I'm not like honing in on like 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, you know, 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, you know, 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 like care what mistakes I'm making so unless it's directly, you know, 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 so, and I know that I mean, I grew up with a lot of, you know, really high achieving people so I was like, around seeing all that. It's like, why 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, you know, 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, you know, I hope I didn't hurt someone's feelings when I said this.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
Jessica: It's hard to get out of that mindset, I guess.
 
Hannah: Yeah, it really is because I guess, you know, 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, we're all you know, 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 almost like it's kind of relieving and it's also this like, really nice form of solidarity because we're all trying to like figure out how to live and be okay with it. So-
 
Jessica: It's true. I almost feel like that's more of a reality in everyone's mind since the COVID outbreak, because there's---I feel in society, there's a lot of like, you put success as like the highest form and what success looks like - success looks like the best job, the most essential job, it looks like, you know, put together makeup and hair all the time or, you know, like you'd have the best car or, you know, for some people, success is not that but I feel like a lot of cultures is shifting to what does it look like to be successful in COVID, you know, like, I think it is to have friends and to talk to one person that's not your dog, or to have a dog.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
Jessica: Or you know, to like sometimes my successes I got up but I put jeans on and I was not leaving the house.
 
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah, for sure and also it's like, there's also being in such a, like, everything's day by day right now so not even knowing what the world is going to look like, you know, a month from now, six months from now, it's sort of, it's like, 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? And it's also like, is my life gonna be the same in six months? Is somebody I know going to get COVID and not make it? and it's just like, I just so---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, you know, 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 like, 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. Oh, do you want to talk a little bit about that journey? Like, you know, 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: Yeah, I mean, there's definitely---so it kind of started where I was realizing because my dad is, you know, has a lot of comorbidities so and he's in New York, and but he's upstate, so hopefully, it won't be so bad but he, you know, he smokes and he's, you know, pushing 60 so I'm like, Oh, it's, you know, I'm like, well, I haven't seen him since August so I'm like, well, this is terrifying and then that, you know, takes you to the, well, I'm gonna die someday, like, 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 like, 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 there's---you can't usually when you think about that, and we all think about it sometimes, you go and you do like life-giving activities, something that makes you feel like life is worth living or life is, you know, 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, you know unless you're trying to trespass but-
 Photo by Hannah Zelazny @zelaaaz
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, like, really sit with those thoughts was, I wouldn't recommend it, but Oh, it was really rough and then it got me thinking I was like, well, okay, you know, 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 more like, 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 like, 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 know, you think you have time you think that you know, we put all the best things off for like 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, 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 like knowing that after this, I hope or I don't even want to hope because you know, 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 second, 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 clear, you know, and as an artist myself, you know, I've thought about, okay, so I created art. My last project, like 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 like little like, inspirations, like oh, I'll get to that when I have time, oh, I'll spend more time with my family when I have time, Oh, please, I just get a life pause so I have some time and here we are this life 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 just 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, you know, and it means to move forward and you actually I worked with you and I, we, were just becoming friends. I think when I came here, for the first time I got my septum pierced.
 
Hannah: Yeah, I did remember that.
 
Jessica: I remember making a big stink about it because I kept sneezing and like touching my nose and going, Oh, no I got my septum pierced.
 
Hannah: Yeah, I remember that.
 
Jessica: I thought so cool but you know, 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, you know, from dyeing their hair, or doing, you know, fancy makeup looks, you know, how---you talk a lot about, you know, like on your Facebook page and, you know, on your blog, you talked a lot about, you know, pouring into other people and toxic positivity and things like that and how it's okay to just be you. I was really curious, you know, 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 I mean, we all have our own things that make us feel comfortable and safe and I sort of in thinking about this time, because I know like, 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 needs. I know that this has definitely been a really interesting journey of learning how to love myself as I am without, you know, being able to I want to cut my hair so bad. I really do and I'm like refraining so hard and just like learning how to appreciate who you are on, you know 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 I mean, you know, partaking in self-care in any way that works for you, whether it's, you know, a face mask or whatever else or going for a run or, you know, sitting outside or whatever you need to, you know, 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. So -

Photo by Rootlessly
Jessica: It's true, you know, I liked those posts that you shared, because I think that it's very true like in the midst of this, you know, it's what you feel is okay regardless of what that is, you know, 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.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
Jessica: And I know, I'm not the only one feeling that way.
 
Hannah: Absolutely.
 
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, you know, anyone who's listening to this because I know, you know, our audiences asked, obviously, like the modified community, people in 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, you know, negative experiences, we shouldn't feel like we have to ignore them, we shouldn't feel like that, it's, you know, 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, you know, where feelings like that are coming from and why we're experiencing them and kind of help, you know, 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 like a very, very intense Crash Course in How to Nurture Myself 101. So -

Hannah and Jess discuss the spiritual side to body modification  
Jessica: Yeah, I agree. There's a very like 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 afterward so I almost want to encourage our listeners when because I you know, I'm in all the forums and I see everyone posts like what should I get pierced in? You know, what's your opinion of me? I almost want to like ask them like, what's your opinion of yourself? Like, what do you want to when you're asking like, well, this looks good on me, well what do you think looks good on you? Because that's all that really matters.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
Jessica: You know, and I know you have your nose pierced. So before I let you go and enjoy your workday. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about that because you were---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: So, I---it's definitely I've changed the law. I definitely went for the just like, 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 but and with work, I didn't know that if it was, you know, 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 sort of like, that was like the first thing I did that was, you know, 'cause I was in college so I was, you know, living independent of my parents and I was like, alright like I was with them, you know, 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 like felt like 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 [inaudible 22:54]. And we've adopted it in Western culture, and I feel like it's very much the same.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
Jessica: Well, was me. I was 16 and I remember calling my dad because my mom was like 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 like, come on and him be like, Okay.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
Jessica: It was also like that empowering like, I am a woman. I have my nose pierced, and I sat through that traumatic experience, which is not really traumatic.
 
Hannah: Yeah.
 
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.
 
Jessica: Yeah.
 
Hannah: That's for sure. It was I think 2016 and I was---it 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, you know, hidden in with work and everything like that I didn't know because it's definitely in on the East Coast there's a really like wildly different culture with piercing than there is here. It's a lot more well-received in like professional settings here than it is over there like I couldn't even--- when I worked in an office job, I couldn't have even just a stud. I had to put like a clear stud in it because we weren't--- 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 like, did it and I was like, well, y'all gotta get used to it. Sorry, but it was not. It was not well received, but it's my face. So-
 
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 partying.
 
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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