IVD: When it comes to anxiety and mental health - I mean, it's a very big question - but how do you cope with anxiety?
PE: It's up and down. My job is amazing, but it has been both a help and a hindrance to my mental health. My job is physical, so it doesn't matter what mood I'm in. I have to show up, which allows me to balance the feelings of doubt - that I'm a bad person, that I'm incapable of life. It doesn't matter what mood I'm in, all I have to do is show up and give all that I’ve got for that day and it might be a little, or it might be a lot for 10 hours. Then I get to leave and rest. It was really helpful for building up my self esteem in some ways, knowing I'm capable of getting on this many planes and doing this many things and being depressed and having anxiety and still getting it done and overcoming fears. However, I also got the onslaught of other anxieties about my body, being disconnected from my peers and my family because I was travelling so much.
The awareness is what helps remedy a lot of it. Journaling is super helpful and journaling freehand specifically. Before I was modelling I went to school for journalism. Well, I started in journalism, and then I went to poetry and psychology, and then I dropped out. I think a lot about what my life would have looked like as a writer, would it be different? Would it be worse? Obviously a lot less money, but it also created this weird intersection between visibility and writing, like I was journaling through the lens of someone else reading it - that was super unhealthy. But journaling for the sake of journaling. It's not supposed to be a tightly edited thing, just a stream of consciousness, it’s super helpful.
IVD: What's something that you've learnt about the fashion industry?
PE: It's not always glamorous, sometimes it is, but it's definitely not always glamorous. You see a picture of a beautiful couture gown, the backstory? It's cut up the back, smells like 15 other girls’ BO and there's makeup stains all over it.
IVD: A lesson in fun, how do you spend your days off?
PE: This is a big deal for me in general. I'm not somebody that ever likes to be alone. I hate being alone, I would rather sit in a silent room with another person. I'm a huge fan of the adult sleepover. I'm here for all of you, you want to come by and run errands with me, drop off my laundry with me, and I am learning this year how to enjoy being alone. I talk a lot, I like to be with people and share experiences with people. I really value connection and touch, but I'm learning to really enjoy my own company.
IVD: Lessons in letting people go? Obviously some people will come into your life for a long time and others a very short time, how do you deal with people leaving?
PE: I'm really loyal, there's also a very big tendency to think we've been friends for 10 years, we'll never not be friends, right? Some relationships that teach you a lot and are worth fighting for. But when the lesson has been learnt from them, you have to walk away. I am trying to teach myself how to not always have to learn the hard way, and I haven't gotten there yet. Being like if they're supposed to be there, they would. I think the uprising, for instance, was for me when I was quite confronting and solution oriented in relationships with non black people.
I started asking, are you my white friend who has no other brown or black friends? All we do is order takeout and watch TV. This isn't magical, like you don't actually see me, right? We don't have a 360 friendship but we've been friends for 10 years. What does that mean? Then on top of it, how are you showing up for the precarity of my life? People who look like me, and people who also don't have the same privileges as me? Some of those people have tried to creep back in. They’ll be like well, let's have dinner and let's talk and I'm like, for what? You can still have compassion. I can still try and have compassion and empathy for where people are at, but I'm gonna say, honestly, life is enough.
It’s my responsibility to accept that this person is exactly who they were the whole time. A friend who has no other black friends? Of course, they don't know how to show up for me, why would they?