Written by Hannah Louise Murray
Illustrated by Nicolle Herrera
There once lived a young Faeling, delicate and frail, yet all the while as powerful as the wind. She shone bright, but the impressionable babe looked to other woodland denizens for guidance on who to be, rather than searching within.
The toad, the elf, the squirrel, the gnome. Each with their assertions and their judgements and their beliefs. These opinions moulded our dear Faeling into a squashed-up pixie, a distorted figure with so little grounding that she was effortlessly and frantically swept across the forest floor, like a browned leaf on its way to disintegration. Weary and crumbling.
She shrank herself to blend in with the toads in the swamp, she listened to the harking mockeries of the elves, she removed her voice to avoid standing out amongst the squirrels, she absorbed the judgement-laced scowls of the gnomes.
She internalised it all. And she drowned.
You see, when you crush yourself into oblivion for so many years - make yourself small as to fit into groups of gremlins, hide in the shadows in fear of your own light, look to trolls for guidance instead of your intuition - you begin to lose yourself entirely. When you eradicate all essence of you in favour of the crowd you become but a dot in the night sky, distorted, unrecognisable, unidentifiable.
You lose any sense of who you really are, where your passions truly reside, what actually lies within.
The all-encompassing loneliness of self-abandonment enveloped this sweet Faeling, and she was entirely lost amidst her mind’s ocean, collapsing to the seabed, unable to surface.
Self-hatred mixed with self-pity; anxiety mixed with fear. Fear of judgement, fear of being exposed and ostracised. It is wholeheartedly simpler to remove all essence of who you are in order to avoid being torn down by others, as opposed to laying yourself out in the sun for all to pick at. Survival instincts. Trauma avoidance. But this method is flawed in that you never embrace your true self, your authenticity is buried. Your light is dimmed and your worldly offering inhibited. You become a shell of an individual, an impression of a person, a hollow carcass.
Battling endlessly with the demons in her mind turned sweet Faeling to dust beneath the woodland canopy, dishevelled and broken, a creature with no light or flight left in her wings. She could see no way out of the fog. Her heavy heart weighed her down and her mind dragged her through the dirt.
Yet one unpinpointed day, the Faeling grew. In all manner of ways, she grew. She finally stood tall; pointed ears upright, wings ready for flight. The Faery she became was always within her, yet she sat buried and blue, only appearing in tiny glimpses when the forest wasn’t watching. But she had finally risen like a phoenix from the ashes.
But how, I hear you cry.
How? By slowly healing your wounds. By the sweet unravelling of the conditioning you have grown accustomed to. By embracing your authenticity, by owning your essence. By ignoring the opinions of others and reducing time spent comparing yourself on social media. By the banishing of your tongue’s semantic violence against yourself. By practicing gratitude. By revisiting your childhood. By rediscovering your passions and following them wholeheartedly and unashamedly. By accepting every single part of who you are, including this journey of pain and self-destruction. By realising you have all it takes inside of you. By dancing through the forest when all the other creatures huddle in fear.
By choosing radical self-love. By choosing yourself.
When that yearning to break free from your mind’s cage catches you in the night, make the decision to kick off the shackles. You have always had the key in your palm. Just ask yourself - who were you before society told you who to be?
On the other side of fear, loneliness, anxiety and self-hatred, lies an unconditional landscape of abundance and joy. And you can reach it, dear Faeling. You just have to embrace the real you.