EP021: Defining Yourself is a Journey Without a Solid Destination

I’m a much better I’m much better doing that for others than I am for myself and like what it can mean to treat yourself like you’re your own best friend hello friends I’m here today with my teammate Silas my stylist is an awesome human who definitely has brought a lot of soul to the development of Avanti we actually quote you all the time your statement in the past interview what you said I don’t know the point of being a human if you aren’t going to be yourself so before we dive into any of the questions I prepared for and probably won’t use why don’t you start with us a little bit about yourself pretty sure so yeah my name is Silas I use he/him pronouns I am a hopeful piercer who knows with you know what where the world’s at right now that’s my goal for myself in general body modification enthusiast I’m from LA but I moved to Portland like eight months ago and I love it it’s awesome I love the trees yeah that’s funny you moved eight months ago and then now we’re in a whole different world that’s a lot of change in like yeah well I came from New York before that and then I just knock in LA for like two months what blah vibes make my roommates least to finish then we came here and now this so it’s been it’s been a year it’s been a long time yeah well crazy oh I’m asking everybody who’s moved what’s it like you know between East Coast and West Coast it’s there are different parts of them that are so beautiful um there’s this lyric in this song Tennessee by this artist PS Elliot that I think of all the time and she says I’ve got a West Coast heart and an East Coast mentality and I like really identify with that of theirs I mean also know it’s tricky cuz I was just living in New York I feel like I can’t really speak on behalf of the entire East Coast um but I love the west coast it’s just beautiful it’s a little more mellow it’s a little more chill I feel like I can really take space to breathe and I don’t know there’s just something about it’s like I get what Cowboys were on about like the yearning to go west I know it’s very that seems to be the connect that everyone’s opinion is but Oregon is like its own breed of calm it really is I like my family whenever they beside me here there there each of them have been like this is the comest I’ve ever seen you know like I know look at it like I have my cute house a little garden like the simple things I just started gardening – it’s like so exciting I wake up in the morning like gotta go water my plants oh and when they first sprout like when my first tomatoes sprouted I was I don’t know why I came out like that but sprouted it was an exciting day you know it’s so quiet like I am growing it Shawn and I decided to get married next month so I’m gonna try to grow flowers yeah well they’re starting to sprout I’m like I have no idea the timetable on flowers at all but I’m like I’m gonna will it to happen it’s on the flower I’ve actually been taking a like plant biology in class every Monday so I learned a lot about it so we can shot plans like separate from this is this normal I don’t really have the best green thumb but my roommate does she’s like so talented sure so you know talking about like you know the process of becoming okay with yourself you know could you speak a little bit more to that and what that journey has looked like for you or yeah um it’s it’s an ongoing process you know and I don’t think there’s ever a moment we truly arrive and are like I figured out who I am and if you have that moment that’s amazing and I’m so happy for you touched by like touch base in a year after that see if it’s the same person like if that’s the same true authentic you so I really just feel like life is this ongoing process of continuously trying to check in with yourselves and

just kind of for a really long time I felt like I something was off but like you know I get couldn’t be articulated I didn’t know what it was um but I just always felt like my every like my whole life was just clouded in something that felt ah it wasn’t based a specific like thing or just at school or just with my friend it’s just was this whole general discomfort and then I like around 18 started learning about people who are non-binary and just generally the concept that gender isn’t this concrete thing that just exists across time and space and is permanent and we all have it and there are these two options and it’s actually been invented and reinvented over time and is totally contextual and that’s solely kind of holding down this whole thread of realizing like basically everything in reality like we think is this concrete definite thing and it’s not and they you know contains like spirituality but also I think it’s very scientific if you get into just quantum physics it’s that at its core and at first it’s really terrifying when everything around you that you think is real suddenly feels like it’s not but when you’re you want to lean into it it’s really liberating because you get realized like you get to create the meaning and value in everything and also who you are and for me this journey has been obviously really centered around my agender journey and being trans but I do feel like it really extends into so much more than that um because it’s so much about just resisting everyone else’s and like society’s or whoever’s expectations of who you are who you should be and asserting that for yourself but to do that you have to really spend a lot of time honestly looking at who that might be and so continuously I’ve thought I found it and I’ve like feel like I got it and then it feels like it slips through my fingers I’m like I’m back in this place of like discomfort and whatever and I feel like it was kind of this ongoing journey of moving if I if you’ve you kind of I don’t like the concept of genders a spectrum like this because signs letters to and points of like you know male and female and I view it more as like I don’t think there’s any shape that can exist to it but in theory moving like further along in this direction and being like oh I’m like kind of non-binary but still wanting to stay in womanhood and finding a lot of like comfort in that um and intimacy and I like relationships with other women and kind of like slowly realizing like I can still find intimacy and like love and these things without my gender being a part of it and then um yeah I just I don’t know over time realizing like all these things that felt like my being a woman was necessary to receive and I’ve been of it being a lot of just like love and care and then being like oh my god I that’s not the truth and it’s scary and it’s just testing the waters slowly over time and then like starting to medically transition and now having been on hormones for like a year I find I mean this is the most aligned I’ve felt but at the same time like being in quarantine with nothing myself to think about all this for a while I’m still at a place of you know reflecting and really thinking about who I am separate from the world what my gender is what I’m not because it is this thing that exists in action and I don’t know I think it’s just we’re ever-evolving and it’s you just have to sign up after that you have to be okay with that yeah I’ve had a lot of conversations about this kind of idea that you know we’re always becoming and I think quarantine is very much that like there’s nothing to do but really you could really distract yourself with like TV for so much okay now going on eight weeks you know at the end of it you’re gonna be like okay I’m now listening to my own thoughts even like stuff like that that used to be my distraction like I haven’t been watching any TV and before this I felt like I was the TV King like I love watching everything and I just can’t right now I brain just it’s the same thing I’m like okay a month of this one by and no longer does my computer screen entertain me it’s just myself I mean you could only watch so many stories before you’re like alright this is really all the same but still everyday I’m like okay Netflix

what new series are you gonna draw like I move to release all avatar apparently that’s coming awesome I was talking to Jasper yesterday actually and he brought you up yeah actually because we Jasper has a huge admiration for you which we all know he’s very open about it but he actually touched on it and I thought that I would share it with you because I think that it’ll mean a lot to you yeah but he said that you’re the bravest guy that he knows and that why he admires you so very much because you challenge gender roles and you challenged spirituality and you challenge your identity with so much flair and confidence and that’s why it requires you so greatly so I was like preparing for this meeting and I was kind of thinking about what he’s bad and I think that you would have a great perspective for the people who are sitting at home wrestling with their thoughts and I realize okay I actually am now forced to kind of brighten Who I am and so what kind of advice would you give them my advice is and I’m not the best at this and so I feel bad saying it but just to sit with that fear um if you like to journal I would journal about it literally just get all those thoughts out and put them all out there and tell yourself as I’m putting them all out there I’m not gonna judge them I’m not gonna have any thoughts or opinions about what these feelings or thoughts are I’m just gonna let them like exit my body and I guarantee that that in and of itself will first make you feel a lot better to just get the weight out of there if you have any loved ones that you feel comfortable talking to about it or you can confide in I recommend doing so I feel like conversations with my close friends who can hold space for me to just think things through were like almost exists as a wall for me to just bounce my own thoughts back off of um I’ve reached a lot of really enlightening conclusions about myself that way I think it’s just really important to get it outside of you whatever that may mean because when it exists only internally it just gets like it’s just gonna frenzy and knowing that whatever you’re feeling is okay and if you don’t feel it’s okay I’m telling you it’s okay I believe it’s okay for you and also utilize the Internet like there’s a lot of people building really cool community online right now so especially right now more than ever I’m sure that you can find some groups to talk about these things I’m a huge fan of FTM reddit it’s a wonderful resource if you also identify as a trans man check that out or I’m wondering if you do the Internet’s are wonderful tool but it can also be scary of course so take everything with caution and just don’t worry about labeling it just think about what feels true to you the labels will change over time I’ve literally had like 50 and at right now I just feel like none I don’t really care what words are words I know who I am I know the journey that I’m on and there’s a community that uses a general label that I can find a reflection of myself in but as a personal label words are just words don’t worry about that just try to focus on what feels right and feeling good or what feels wrong and then you can go by process of elimination that’s kind of more what worked for me this narrative of like I knew who I was I was like I’ve always known I was like a man trapped in a woman’s body or whatever I’ve literally like never met a single person yeah that was me and I’ve talked a lot of trans people like most people I feel don’t experience their journey that way and I think a process of elimination can sometimes be an easier place to start of okay this feels wrong cool like maybe try to think about why if that’s too hard then that’s fine just avoid it but just ponder your feelings you don’t judge them I know it’s worked with me having anxiety and OCD is I get a lot of interest of thoughts like all of the time oh yeah all of the time and having to sit there and part of having OCD for anyone who doesn’t know it’s not just like oh there’s germs everywhere there’s such a spectrum to it and the thoughts create anxiety which leads to a compulsion which is why you see people washing their hands and things like that is there literally washing away their thoughts and so by happier thoughts and sitting them with them you’re actually taking the power away from them so that’s a tool too that I learned just with your own mental health it’s just like all right here we go yeah all right like it doesn’t but I watch this show the midnight gospel it’s the only thing

I’ve been watching in quarantine and they talk a lot about like meditation and just sitting with your feelings and all of this it really changed my whole perspective of like like the constant of spaciousness and allowing room between yourself and your feelings and just witnessing them and not they are a part of you but knowing that you’re not defined by your feelings and like getting some separation between that I think is made it so much but by no means am I an expert I’m sitting with those feelings that’s why I recommend journaling because I’m like actively doing something you know it feels like I’m doing something to get it out of my body but to each their own yeah yeah I mean it yeah and if it’s journaling it’s not your thing I know that journaling used to be my thing but now seeing my thoughts in permanent space actually makes it hard to process I can’t read my handwriting when I just really in fats per second where I’m just writing so fast to get them out like I have ADHD it’s just um so much and so then later I’m like beautiful I’ve no idea what this says I can’t return to it even if I wanted to I yeah my handwriting I like the cool calligraphy project and then I’ll be like halfway through the word and I’m like I give up there was always like I think everyone had one kid in like their class in middle school that made like all of their notes beautiful and had like the cutest pen and like highlighter set and I always admired them and every year I’d start off the year being like that’s gonna be me this year and like day one just I used to just highlight things because I knew you’re supposed to everything I think I think this all seems important I don’t know right and I’m like if I highlight it does it lock it in my brain like I don’t really I don’t know so I just highlight it all highlight everything and then later I have to go in with like another color highlighter and yeah I guess now I have to like highlight the highlight because this is not helpful Circle it and then no you can’t even read it because you’re like poke a hole through the paper from just like so much ink actually cross out the words and you’re like I do not miss school I’m like I don’t really either I hate it no instead it was not my thing yeah so we you talked in I think the past podcast about and I think like some other interviews that we would do a lot of interviews I was you wanted to get piercings and tattoos based off of your first experience going to a tattoo parlor and seeing your definition of what cool looks like yeah in the studio and what I’m curious about um is did did making it so I guess we all have preconceived notions of what it means to be a modified person mm-hmm that may or may not live up to the reality or the truth of what it means to be a modified person but by making those steps for yourself did it give you the freedom to be that person that you thought that’s what it meant like you saw that guy getting those nipples Pearson you’re like that is cool that is everything that I think like is cool and awesome and what I should be you know not a fulfilling thing in itself then you did it all right I don’t know if you’ve done it but you know you’ve been you got pierced and you’re like okay this is now like I am now this person yeah I don’t know if it was so much of like I am now this person I feel like um I felt like I wanted it to be but I was still dislike dweeby like 14-year old and this like taught to you in piercing harder with my mom like you know you mean and I remember like wanting to look so cool and Iommi illegal I wanted I wanted like a cool Andale to wear but I only liked my brothers clothes I mean I wore my brother suppose always but I was just like yeah this is cool this is what’s sick and it was just like these giant oversized clothes that didn’t fit me and I was like plaid that’s good that’s alternative but I do feel like what it really shifted was um I think I had a really unfortunate preconceived notion of like modified people not very nice or just like um seeming really intimidating and then I went there and everyone was so warm and friendly and

sweet and like it felt communal and I think that was like what was so remarkable about that guy who’s getting his nipples pierced is that like everyone who was there in the shop I mean it was just people working there and like him and his partner and my mom and I but we were all invested in history and and sharing those like emotions with him they’re like fear and excitement and adrenaline like everyone gets pumped when someone’s in the shop like and I’ve experienced it Herbie will come into Avanti like when someone’s really excited about something they’re getting and you know their journey and they share those fears and excitements too like I’m so invested in that as well like very personal your journeys around like yes yeah let’s do it and that was what made it a really big ship I think instead of viewing us just these isolated people who happen to be very modified and also that March of it makes a modified existence seem really lonely the whole idea that it can be a community was just a different experience like my parents I mean yeah my mom took me there but and they’re supportive of it now but you know definitely like a different mindset of like you’re probably not gonna get a job or like all this stuff of just you’re gonna be a societal reject and then there’s like also cultural associations with modified people like the whole emo culture is like about being emailing alone and like yeah that was super important to me too but um seeing modification in a context other than like being sad was just life-changing I was like oh my god you can be like a happy exciting person and like have a whole life and continue to be modified and that also be your whole life and find happiness and joy no filling in that wonderful who knew to go back like middle school and I was like I don’t care about this like sitting in science it’s like doodling my tattoos oh my god I actually when we were in eighth grade we had to write letters to our 18 year old selves and mine in it was like I’m gonna be a tattoo artist these are the tattoos that I want I don’t have any of the ones that I thought I would want now thank God oh but all of them were like I and it’s amazing thinking about about and interns also like who we are instead like there was this version of me that was very in touch with my adult self now but then kind of I lost touch with that person through just like the ups and downs of being a teenager you know but then seeing this one version I mean like yeah I was you know not super happy but they were like I’m gonna you talk to artists and I’m gonna design skateboards like here’s what I’m on about like and then 18 year old me who was not at all similar to that saw it and was so embarrassed was like cringing and then now 23 year old me is like no you’re amazing hey when I was in middle school I remember yeah feeling very much the same like the idea that there were these really cool people but it’s also like you know I grew up conservative I think we’ve talked about this before and you have as well yeah and it’s like this idea of like other this in the modified community and it was like this like big question mark like if I asked my parents about it was always like that’s bad but like no explanation of why yeah for me was a little different because so I’m Jewish so I did get an explanation which isn’t even the correct one but my mom always would just tie it to the Holocaust which is a really unfortunate and intense comparison um but that’s actually not why it’s just like in ER like traditional or like more orthodox four inches of Judaism it’s that you’re not supposed to alter your image like because you’re made in the image of God so then that ties in to other things but it’s like we all cut our hair so that’s altering our image um but it’s about other nassif you like being modified was a huge kind of barrier in my relationship with my parents and then I was like I’m trans and I’m gonna medically transition and then after that I was like okay well now I don’t really care at all what you say about even though I’ve been having I was like covered in tattoos prior to that it was still this larger issue but then I think once I really just leaned into all of these different forms of other nough specially the ones that were about my body it came to a prime I was just like okay I don’t really care and then again also the fact that there is like all these things have communities and the communities overlap and like communities are really big important part of it and

in all other nurse in general I feel like so much of other nurses just portrayed again as this minority and when you realize that even if you are the minority there’s large numbers of you that exists together and there’s power in in people it opens up a whole new world it really does I think there’s like the idea of other nasai like the idea of living the questions of life and when you sit down and you’re like okay these are all the questions that I have and I’m just going to be okay with those questions and I’m going to go ahead and do them anyways because like for me you know growing up in a conservative household there’s chapters in the whole Testament about a modifying your body and how it is also you know a sin and all that and I was like well isn’t really a sin because there’s mixed doctrine on it and then you know growing up and like kind of becoming my own person I don’t know whose questions for myself and like realized I I don’t think so like you know and that other Nassif and you know and I think that advice that I would give anyone who’s listening to this you know is that that other nasai art of yourself that you’re afraid to explore almost and by opening yourself up to those questions and being okay and giving your permission to live those questions you’ll actually probably find a lot of freedom yeah and I think also what you said about even just attempting to answer those questions for yourself is so powerful because so much is just handed down to us and we just accept and really like what would it look like for you to just decide well here’s what I actually think and no one’s gonna come in like no one’s gonna appear out of nowhere and be like you’re wrong like no one can take that decision away from you or what you decide is right for yourself and it’s such a subtle thing you know it’s such a small thing that can be overlooked well and as you start living those questions you start asking more questions because it’s almost like it gets the ball moving and the snowball gets bigger and bigger and you’re like okay well now I have more questions and then you realize that you’re asking questions that people you looked up to might never have asked for themselves and they also don’t know the answer and it breaks that barrier of authority on what is and isn’t right for a person totally start to like okay well if you don’t know the answer and you basically your word is my law then you know maybe I actually make my own rules I also think there’s just so much power and being like I don’t know I don’t know why we’re so afraid to just say we don’t know things you know what I mean yeah and it’s something I like run into with myself on like a daily basis you know and it’s possible if you’re like are you familiar with this or whatever and we’re all like oh kind of even though most of the time I’m no you know name you know to these larger questions of about life or god or you know being modified or your gender um and again with authority of like I think when other people ask us a question and and some sort of authority dynamic kicks in we want to give an answer but I think the best answer you can give is often of thing like I don’t know enough to have an answer to this or I just can’t give you one and again just like kind of reimagining for ourselves what a life can look like to just exist outside of these things we thought were definable or definitive yeah yeah exactly and it also like when you really that like need to have an answer for everything it also releases your society will need to have an opinion for everything – mm-hmm so haha easier to get along with everybody because you’re no longer forced to come up with these opinions on things that you don’t even understand yeah definitely and also understanding that like I know it changed like my relationship dynamics to realizing like I don’t need to know the answers are having answers to everything and like with other people or like I’m having articulating this well yeah I guess it’s just I’m going off of what you said especially like strangers that I don’t know to you we’re like when you meet someone they’re kind of hostile or whatever and really just reminding yourself like we’re all just existing in this giant chaotic scramble that is this universe and you must really know anything I have a lot more patience you know I think I was picking up maybe with where you’re going with the friends concept is my friendships have gotten stronger because when they come to me for advice it’s no longer like lecturing because I you know we learn relationship records in our first major relationship whether it’s a pot deliver an egg one is with your parental figure and that involves some sort of luxury and one way or the other and so as you’re building like social connections with friends and they’re like should I do this you’re like no you can’t do this because this is wrong or yes you can do this because this is the

right thing because my mom said you know and releasing that need what I found is my friends will come to me and they’re like I did this thing and I’m like okay how do you feel about it mm-hmm and that’s a huge shift that I’ve seen just becoming 24 right going from a feeling place first or being like uh I think that’s the best question anyone listening am you taking a piece of advice from this at all in all your relationships when they talk about anything I really think I think I go first question is just how are you feeling about it they can offer anyone ever no matter what relationship dynamic it is and especially right now in the current state of the world where everything is so scary I think the best thing we can do is just try to get more in touch with our emotions that’s the best I’ve been able to do and I’m trying to do in all of this and like yeah same for everyone else you’re so right though that’s exactly I was trying to say with the parent and then the friend thing like I’m thinking opportunity that’s something that we’re in a similar stage of life being in our early 20s you know and socially like sociologically speaking psychologically speaking liking the stages of development that’s definitely a big one I’ve noticed is that like shift from I don’t want to call it condescending but that shift from like black and white so okay there’s a lot more gray in the world and there’s more perspectives than I thought and like in everyone’s opinion you know and so just kind of honoring that and especially in light of copán when there’s like so many feelings about it and it’s just like hey if you are upset about it that’s okay if you are afraid that’s okay if you’ve been different that’s okay you know all that matters is that I guess the best thing you can do for anyone just coming to you with a problem is help them identify their own feelings and giving them a safe space to identify those yeah I agree and that’s like a really powerful beautiful tool you know um and also to try to do that for yourself why don’t something like I am realizing in the context of kovat is like I’m a much better I’m much better doing that for others than I am for myself and like what it can mean to treat yourself like you’re your own best friend and sit in those questions in those feelings um just in the past weeks I’ve really been like wow emotions are so powerful and like truly are gonna be what save the universe and it’s just a wild thing to realize and sit with and like realizing we’re all in I mean I’m sure not everyone is thinking about this right now but interview we’re all going through this right now and like realizing this together and being forced to confront our feelings together yeah it’s felt like a very like one world nice you know like there’s not you know before it was like oh the celebrities doing this and yes there’s some of that still but a lot of it is like the politicians they don’t know what they’re doing the doctors they don’t know what your inch or no celebrities they’re like like my doctrine is like I’m gonna go outside and breathe the Cova dare and I’m like okay you know nobody knows any more than anybody else and that’s a very refreshing thing to see in the world that I hope is taken forward past the pandemic mmhmm dadís has definitely been stripped away we’re all unemployed we’re all the jobs that we thought were like jobs that you get if you can’t be successful in a business office you know are now the lifeblood of the world they deserve so much more I’m like I hope when this is all over that everyone you know treats them with the respect that they deserve as fellow humans really Hanford yeah keeping us together during this time well that’s what’s like I mean obviously I’m hesitant to use the word exciting and this time but what is exciting about all this is the idea that we can like really reimagine a lot going forward and as scary as that is and the more time we spend in it the more opportunity for reinvention we have and I hope that like it can be something that’s more people oriented and communal oriented or aware of like these shared experiences and feelings um also especially because this is kind of affected time in a crazy way of like no one can plan like we all had things we planned we all you know had a vision of where we thought this year was going and now everyone’s like I guess I’ll see you what tomorrow is and then tomorrow comes and it’s the same thing over and over again which

I’ve never felt so present and it’s painful a lot of days but it’s also like really exciting it really is yeah it’s really true I like that aspect you know that we’re living everyday in the moment and I think as I can’t speak to every country but like in America the culture is very much like distracted distraction distraction like temporary fix temporary fix and there’s no temporary fix and yeah much distraction and like I you know at my apartment complex I’m seeing parents hang out with their kids that you know I’ve been living there for a little bit now I’ve never seen that so see it’s so sweet you know but I like it speaking it I think to the culture Cheney as a whole because the distraction and the urgency and the need to like reach the definition of success is having the most hours put in the most money in the bank and the most status amongst your peers yeah it’s all stripped away yeah I think it’s so exciting to think about and this kind of ties back to the beginning of our conversation about just like the process of getting to know yourself of like who you are and what makes you feel fulfilled away from all of that sometimes I really actually this is my own another piece of advice I have in the effort to get to know yourself as I imagine what I would be like if I was just like the last person on earth and things I still had access to everything I had now so I still could like use technology and you know have like art supplies and my music equipment and that would all work like who would I be what would I look like what would I do to fulfill my time like what would make me feel satisfied in an existence just with myself and I find that’s where you can really get a lot of the answers as to the closest you can come to me knew what that like true itself is but I think it’s also a really great exercise for right now in quarantine because that’s kind of where we’re at but you can still talk other people but ya know it’s very much true yeah like I had the flu a couple of days ago I got tested for kovat it was not covet it was the flu oh good I couldn’t see anybody like I couldn’t see Shawn I couldn’t my parents I couldn’t like see anything and yeah you know you’re just forced to sit there with yourself and think because what else is there and it’s a wrestle with who you are yeah and just think like literally think like okay I literally feel like the last person right now so Who am I do I like that person yeah that’s that’s a great starting question you know just start out do I like myself an underrated question self exploration is truly unlike any other emotional experience you know it’s so intense and it’s so honest and so raw but nothing else is more fulfilling yeah it’s true yeah well thank you so much for your time today of course thank you I’m excited to see you when this is over me too and congrats on the or sooner marriage I decided about it I was like it was good to be December and now it’s in 37 days fighting I’ll be counting down great rest of your day you too bye bye