I'll start by saying - I love building my photo-walls.
Ever since I was 16 years old, I have been printing my cell phone photos and hanging them on twine across my turquoise wall. The size of the display has changed, as well as the clips, how I hang the twine, the people in the photos, as well as when I hang a new display. But, one thing remains - the wall itself. I think it's safe to say this has become one of those signature EmmaTM things that if ever I were to share some "interesting facts about me", my photo-wall would make the list. It's probably not the weirdest thing you've ever heard about a photographer, and some may even accuse me of trying too hard to quirky, but I promise, that's not my goal. Truthfully, my wall is something I am very proud of, it's something I enjoy putting together every year, and it's become one of those special traditions that I keep with myself.
As a single 21 year old lady still living at home, I've started down the path of creating traditions and tasks I can call my own. Until the future Mr. Emma comes into my life and brings with it a whole new lifestyle change, I figure I shouldn't sit and wait for that part of "adulting" to start. When I graduated college, I didn't have a whole new life. In fact, I often felt like I was still living like a highschooler. Creating little traditions with just me, myself, and I helped me make the full separation from childhood. I bought a bunch of seasonal décor, and make it a habit to change things with the new season/upcoming holiday. I'm such a creature of habit, that every year I make it a goal to have a new favorite musical artist. (this is because if you were to look at my Spotify "year in review" playlists from 2015 and beyond, the music doesn't change a whole lot.) I pick an artist who I really like, and I make it competition with myself to see how much of that artist or group I can listen to in a year. In 2019, when I started this, I don't remember who I originally picked but I do remember being bummed with myself because my most listened to artist was Meghan Trainor. After that it was Ben Rector, FORKINGANDCOUNTRY, and this year it is Charity Gayle. We'll see how well I do....
Okay, so despite my little rabbit trail there, I have several traditions that I have started with myself. My photo wall? A cheap, easy, and quick tradition that brings life and personality to my space. Definitely a tradition I'll continue on for years.
So, here's the interesting part...
As I was looking back at some of my previous photo wall projects, I noticed a running them. Sure, a lot of the photos were selfies, all of them contain images of people I love, and there are always a majority of pictures of my brother, but that's not what I noticed. No. After investigating, I discovered that every year has a color. Now, I was foolish and I didn't get digital photos of every wall I've had (thank you polaroids) but I do have digital photos from the last few years. And they all have a distinct color! There's something so revealingly intimate about discovering that a whole year of my life could be summarized in a color. After looking through the years, I came to the conclusion that I agreed with the colors. They properly, beautifully, and ironically reflected what kind of year it was. So, let's take a look!
2019 was Pink.
2019, My senior year of highschool, I turned 18, I started college. It was the year that everything I knew ended, and everything I had been waiting for began. I've always been a girl who is perfectly content to be where she's at, both in life as a whole and in the little things. So, to have everything I knew suddenly but surely come to a finale, was hard on me. However, I was finally pursuing my dream job, living as an adult, surrounded by a wonderful church body and great friends.
I believe that 2019 being Pink is so perfectly poetic, it's hard to not laugh at the irony. I went through that year with rose-colored glasses. Was my perspective for the future a little off? Yes. But, I was hopeful, I was excited, and I couldn't help but romanticize what my next phase of life would look like. Heck, I'm still processing all that to this day!
Pink is the color of tenderness, charm, romance, childhood, innocence. My 2019 was pink.
*yes I posted straight up screenshots.*
2020 was Yellow and Blue.
Happy and Sad. Hopeful and Hard. Mundane and Insane.
You all lived it, I don't really need to elaborate. The reason I shared photos of my wall as well as screenshots is because...well...2020 was so weird and isolated that I pretty much covered my whole bedroom in photos. I wanted constant reminders of the people I loved and missed. As the year went on, you can see that I was still surrounded by people I loved, even during the worst year ever. There was joy in the sorrow. Yellow and Blue.
I gained some of the closest relationships I've ever had, watched someone who was like a sister disappear and never come back, struggled through all of my college experience, gained a ton of weight, saw the ocean for the first time, hugged my family a little tighter, celebrated graduations and birthdays and anniversaries, faced some pretty bad consequences from the actions of my beloveds, found where my true passions laid in my work. 2020 was one of the most confusing years I think I've ever existed in, and I know I'm not alone in that.
I don't ever want to forget it, and yet I constantly struggle with the realization that 2020 was 2 years ago and quarantine wasn't just last week.
Suffice it to say that 2020 was yellow - cheery, hopeful, joyous, bright. And it was blue - grieved, gloomy, calm, overwhelming.
It's funny how 2020 was the "bad" year,
and yet 2021's wall is so wild and inconsistent! I was tempted to say that 2021 was grey because that was the color I seemed to wear the most, but I'll be honest when I say I don't see a single color theme in this whole picture.
2021 was the year of rediscovering myself. Figuring out how I was going to be as a human being for the foreseeable future. I was constantly reevaluating myself, my relationships, my job, my hobbies, my actions etc. It was exhausting and inconsistent work, and I believe this wall still reflects that.
I'll be very honest and say that even though there aren't a lot of distinguishable faces in here, the faces on this wall are the forever faces. They are the people who made it through 2021, despite all my internal crisis and potential implosions. Looking at this wall, I don't see a single person who I don't love dearly. I don't see a face among them who wouldn't be at my side with a moment's notice. I see faces of those who have been there for me when I couldn't even be there for myself. When I couldn't put on real pants, let alone do my hair because I was so emotionally yucky, when I was so high on top of the world that I was bound to hurt myself from all the excitement, when I was struggling with my relationship with the Lord and what He had for me. These are the faces who stuck around. My old reliable consistencies in a year full of wild swinging on a broken pendulum.
2021 was people. No color other than the tones of their skin.
2022 was a red year. I've spent quite a bit of time trying to determine what that means, and to be honest...I'm still not fully sure. The year isn't over yet, after all. Nonetheless, this year's wall presents the color red. Like 2020, I decided to extend the photo wall to my door, and even there the red shines through. Sure, there are a lot of colors on this wall, and maybe you see a more prominent color. (art speaks differently to everyone.) But, when I look at my wall every day, I see red. I see the reds of Christmas, that warm heartfelt kind of color that brings cheer to your heart. I see my red bridesmaid dress from when my dear friend committed her life to the man she loves. I see red lipstick, the color that my honorary little brothers think is still "too old" for me. I see the red of school dances - sweaty palms of young kids who needed to be taught what dancing looks like. I see the red of romance in the world surrounding my two MVPs as they learn to love and be with their other halves - dating, courting, engagement, and soon to be marriage.
I've spent a lot of this year seeking out acceptance and trying to remove what was potentially toxic expectations. Not the kind where I am seeking acceptance from others, rather where I accept the things happening around me. Seeing the evil of comparison and lurking discontentment in my heart, and waiting on God to provide me with the tools to kill it. Realizing and accepting the fact that I am who I am and where I am when I am. Trying to tell myself until I believe it that while my relationships matter SO MUCH to me, they cannot be where I find my value, identity, or where I stake my life. The expectations I placed on my beloveds was unfair and totally insane, and I'm still learning how to combat all of that. So, maybe I see the red of blood, sweat, and tears, too. The red of anger, and grief, and too many starbursts eaten on late nights for comfort. But, you know what? God is so good! He has never let me fall too far down the rabbit hole. He has delivered me from my enemies (be they mainly of the heart). He also spoke to me through friends and family. The most unlikely of people showed up to call out my coping mechanisms, my bad habits, and the janky thoughts in my head. I see the red, the color of bold love. the kind of love Jesus has for me. The kind of love my friends had for me during hard conversations. When I look at my wall now, I see a lot of things. I see the purity of what this primary color has come to mean to me. And, I'll be frank in saying that until now, I've always kind of hated the color red. I didn't think it was pretty, or eye-catching, or had any redeemable qualities.
But, now it means something to me. When I look at my photo wall for 2022, I see all the things I didn't know God could do amidst my own struggle. I see contentment in the storm. I see smiles, and hugs, and silly poses, and tongues sticking out, and squinty eyes, and jazz hands, and showing off yummy food, and concerts, and laughter, and jumping, and working, and vacations, friends accepting Jesus, and swimming, and coffee dates, and cool trees, and photos taken after really hard days.
I see my life. And, apparently, my life is Red.
I know. I know. This was probably my longest post ever. But, it was also very therapeutic. I've written, re-written, abandoned, questioned, and restarted this whole post for almost 5 weeks! I put up my new photo wall display on Sept. 6th! I think overall, it's so good to look back and think about the person you once were, who you hoped to be, and how all that turned out thus far. I think, also, when you're a professing believer in Christ, you have this added blessing of looking back and seeing where God loved you right where you were at. I was a bit naïve in 2019, and God never seemed to roll his eyes at me despite knowing what was coming. I was lost most of 2021, and he never stopped holding my hand and encouraging me to keep going. To lay all my problems out before him and to not pick them up again.
Like I said, I've re-written so many times. I'm not even sure I have any real closing thoughts, because I believe that I'm still processing all of them. But, I will finish with this-
I have been reminded that throughout all my adult life thus far, my people and my Jesus have remained the most important to me. I hope I never lose that. I pray I never lose that.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end!
Until next time friends,