I had the honor of being asked to do a photo shoot in the mountains with my new friend Nikki Oka a few weeks ago (Instagram: @okaa_san) She wanted to capture me in the place that I am most inspired by at this time in my life.
I took the entire day to get ready. It felt strange to put on makeup, curl my hair, and actually give a damn about my appearance. The last time I cared that much about my personal appearance was high school (when I cared for all the wrong reasons.) Feeling nervous and slightly insecure, I met Nikki downstairs. We drove up to Tantalus, located here in Hawai'i, and stopped at what seemed to be a million places. We started to take pictures before we lost daylight, and Nikki could tell that the only thing I was lacking was confidence. She taught me how to pose and encouraged me to break free from my insecurities. I decided to give it a try. It felt amazing. With each picture taken, I started to feel more and more confident.
From power-walking it up and down a sidewalk-less roads in fear of oncoming cars to posing with bamboo shoots, Nikki and I had a blast.
We shared stories about beauty, life, confidence, and perseverance. I was so inspired by her stories of personal triumph, and her ambition made her glow. I kept thinking to myself "What a beautiful person!"
At the end of our session, we stood on a wall overlooking the city. Below was a dark valley. We stood there in the silence, gave our attention to the present moment, felt the cold chill of the crisp mountain air on our faces, and took in the aura of the landscape.
This experience made me realize that I've held the belief that I am not allowed to be beautiful or to try to be beautiful. I would never wear makeup or go shopping. I would never actually care. I've learned that inner and outer beauty along with self-care should be balanced. One shouldn't be more extreme than the other (I'm speaking for myself, not for others.)
In high school, I was absolutely obsessed with looking cute and being "skinny" in order to feel wanted and loved by others (specifically boys.) I depended on it heavily. Once college started, I realized how much I was disrespecting myself and changed my life. However, it got to the point of caring too little about taking care of my body, health, and overall appearance in honor of retaliation. I'm still trying to find balance and what works for me, but now I feel much more at peace with myself then ever. I'm still not in the best shape of my life, but my heart feels warm.
Everyday since then, I've been taking care of my physical appearance. It's been making my overall well-being emanate with a content light. I used to be one of those people who didn't see the value in it, but I now realize I was just making excuses for a negative belief in my life.
I am incredibly pleased with our photo shoot, and I encourage you to check out Nikki's Instagram page. I find her to be incredibly sweet and talented. She's going to go very far in this world. Speaking of going far in this world, she's literally going far away within this world! She'll be traveling abroad for the next several months, and I am truly going to miss her. We had the chance to meet up for dinner and coffee/tea after the photo shoot, and my goodness, we have so much in common. I'm honored to have her as my new friend. I can't wait for her to get back, but I'm also hope that she has the time of her life!
Nikki Oka Instagram: @okaa_san